Sharp drop in southern Syria’s cereal crops
Despite improved rainfall in Syria as the winter season progressed, a below average cereal production is projected due to earlier warm and dry conditions. Latest reports by the General Establishment for Cereal Processing and Trade put the 2000/2001 Syrian wheat production at 2.7 million tons, four percent above the previous year’s crop, but 25 percent below average.
According to the director of planning at the Syrian ministry of agriculture, barley crops, which are almost entirely rainfed, are expected to reach 1.65 million tons this year, down from 211,000 in 2000, and 90 percent below the previous five-year average.
Most severely hurt are farms located in the Deraa region, some 110 kilometers south of Damascus. Wheat output in Deraa, according to regional sources fell from 36,823 tons in 2000 to 980 tons in 2001. This constitutes a steep 97 percent fall. The Tishrin daily reported that barley output in the Deraa province similarly dropped 86 percent, from 1,892 tons in 2000 to 266 tons in 2001. All other non-irrigated crops have also recorded a significant decline.
More optimistic official sources, quoted by the Al-Hayat daily, reported that apart from the dry southern region, all parts of the country have had adequate rainfall levels this year. They therefore expect that the total Syrian wheat output to eventually reach 4.8 million tons this season.
The country's 17-million strong population consumes nearly 3.12 million tons of wheat a year, while another 249,878 tons are required as seed. Syrian barley consumption in 2001 is expected to reach 1.15 million tons, with 849,350 tons used as fodder and the rest serving as seed.
Syria experienced three consecutive years of drought, severely affecting crop production. Syria’s production of wheat for 1999 has drastically dropped from a peak of 4.2 million tons in 1994 to 2.6 million tons. — (Mena Report)
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)