Rains improve harvests in Syria but families still struggle to survive


5 September 2019, Rome – Favourable rains in Syria’s agricultural areas, coupled with improved overall security, have boosted harvests compared to last year, but higher food prices are putting more strain on many Syrians, a new United Nations report has found.

Wheat production is estimated at 2.2 million metric tonnes, compared to last year’s 29-year low of 1.2 million tonnes, but is still far below the pre-crisis average of 4.1 million tonnes (2002-2011), according to the latest Crop and Food Security Assessment Mission (CFSAM) report, produced jointly by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP). The estimated production of barley, at 2 million metric tonnes, is more than five times that of 2018 and more than 150 percent higher than the average production levels achieved prior to the crisis.

However, food prices have been gradually increasing over the past 12 to 14 months largely as a result of increased domestic fuel prices and continuous depreciation of the Syrian Pound on the informal exchange market.

Food security remains a serious challenge due to continued localized hostilities, new and protracted displacements, increased numbers of recent returnees and the sustained erosion of communities’ resilience after almost nine years of conflict.

“Despite the good rains, farmers in rural areas are still facing many challenges including a lack of access to seeds and fertilizers, high transport costs, the presence of unexploded ordnance in some of their fields, and limited marketing opportunities,” said FAO Representative in Syria, Mike Robson. “Unless there is increased support for agricultural livelihoods, particularly those of Syria’s most vulnerable families, the reliance on food assistance will remain,” he said.

“After nine years of crisis, the people of Syria, including those returning to their villages, continue to face great challenges,” said Corinne Fleischer, Country Director of WFP in Syria. “Many struggles to feed and educate their children. WFP remains committed to delivering the assistance which helps them to survive and eventually to rebuild their lives.”

Between June and July 2019, the joint FAO/WFP mission team visited ten of the country’s 14 governorates but was not able to reach Raqqa and Idleb governorates due to insecurity. Based on interviews, surveys, field visits, national data, and satellite information, the report provides estimates on crop production for 2019 and assesses the country’s overall food security situation.

The full material on [http://www.fao.org/news/story/en/item/1207162/icode/]