Syria to slash cotton production, diversify agriculture
Syria is planning to curb imports by diversifying its agriculture and cutting down on cotton, one of the country's best-performing sectors, Agriculture Minister Assad Mustafa said Monday.
"Our plan for this year is to produce less than 900,000 tones of cotton, because we want to increase our production of imported goods such as dried vegetables, fodder and corn", he said.
Syria's cotton production jumped to 1.06 million tones in 2000 from 900,000 in 1999, said Mustafa, who added that Syria retained its rank as the world's 10th producer.
The ruling party's mouthpiece Al-Baath said the 2000 harvest earned farmers 36.4 billion Syrian pounds ($728 million) and that exports for the same year yielded $300 million for the state.
Last week, the official Ath-Thawra newspaper quoted cotton industry official Farid Khuri as saying Syria exported 80 percent of its cotton, making it the second-largest foreign exchange earner after oil.
Mustafa added that 1.3 million people or 29 percent of Syria's active population work in the farming sector, which accounts for almost 25 percent of the country's $17-billion gross domestic product. — (AFP, Damascus)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)