War and drought produce Syria’s smallest wheat crop in 30 years

By Maha El Dahan DUBAI, Oct 9 (Reuters) – Syria’s wheat crop this year was the smallest in three decades as war and drought cut production by around 30 percent, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization said on Tuesday.
Output of 1.2 million tonnes in 2018 was the lowest since 1989 and compared with a pre-crisis average of 4.1 million tonnes a year, FAO said.
The slump in wheat production this year occurred despite better access to agricultural land due to an improved security situation.
Infrastructure has been badly damaged after years of war combined with drought hitting bread-producing regions.
Of the total wheat produced, government state grain buyer Hoboob is estimated to have purchased only 250,000 tonnes.
Syria used to produce upwards of 4 million tonnes in a good year and was able to export 1.5 million tonnes.
The fall in output has put President Bashar al-Assad’s government under increasing pressure to import the grain.
Syria’s Internal Trade Minister told Reuters in June that Syria planned to import around 1.5 million tonnes of mostly Russian wheat this year.
A large part of Syria’s agricultural heartland in the north came under Islamic State control after the ultra-hardline jihadist group swept through the area and established a de facto capital in Raqqa.
"You have to consider that war basically is happening in the fields and so sometimes farmers and other stakeholders have limited access to the fields and to agricultural inputs – put that together with inflation and locals cannot afford to buy," Yao said.

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