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Below Average Syria Wheat Harvest in 2013

17 July 2013

SYRIA - Despite favorable seasonal rainfall in 2012/13, the 2013 wheat production is estimated at 2.4 million tonnes, significantly lower than the average for the ten years prior to 2010/11 that exceeded 4 million tonnes (a 40 per cent decline) and 15 per cent below the poor 2011/12 crop.

The barley crop, which is predominantly rainfed, is expected to be close to 1 million tonnes, above the average annual production of 773 000 tonnes for the ten years prior to 2010/11.

The FAO reports less area was planted to cereals due to high costs of production, reduced input availability including labour, prevailing violence, related damage to farm equipment, and abandoned land.

Power cuts, damage to power stations, canals, and pumps; and high diesel costs contributed to a decline of the area under irrigated cereal production. Pre and post-harvest grain losses are higher than average this year, due mostly to damage to harvesting equipment and storage structures.

Likewise, the livestock sector has been seriously depleted by the ongoing conflict. Poultry production is estimated to be down by more than 50 per cent compared with 2011, and sheep and cattle numbers are down approximately 35 per cent and 25 per cent, respectively.

Vaccines are in short supply and sanctions prohibit imports. Due to higher prices, more Syrian livestock are being sold in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq.

With the virtual loss of veterinary services within Syria, livestock diseases are being transmitted to neighbouring countries, thereby posing a potentially serious regional animal-health problem.

Civil unrest aggravates food insecurity

Continued civil unrest since mid-March 2011 has raised serious concern over the state of food security, particularly for vulnerable groups. Following the unrest, the economy contracted by 3.4 per cent in 2011 and 19 per cent in 2012.

For 2013 external sources expect a contraction of over 13 per cent. The economy continues to be under pressure from international sanctions which include an embargo on oil exports as well as restrictions on international trade, investment and financial transactions.

The Government’s fiscal capacity to support producer and consumer subsidy schemes has come under severe strain following the economic downturn and the international sanctions.

TheCropSite News Desk

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