Cotton crop in Northeast Syria to fade

By Nalin Ali

QAMISHLI, Syria (North Press) – Hussein Muhammad Kheleif, 50, inspected his cotton crop especially after the spread of the spodoptera littoralis which has caused a significant damage this year.

Kheleif, a farmer in the countryside of Qamishli in northeastern Syria, expresses his frustration because of the low production and poor quality due to the impact of spodoptera littoralis.

Although he sprays insecticides to eliminate the worm every 10 to 15 days, all of that has been of no use in combating it.

The farmer faces a set of challenges in cotton farming including securing diesel fuel to operate the generator and irrigate the crop, which requires a lot of effort and time to obtain.

The farmer considers harvesting the remaining crop 20 days before the scheduled harvest date to avoid further losses. “If we manage to get benefit from half of the crop this year, it will be a blessing by God”, he told North Press.

Cotton is one of the most important crops in Syria, with a significant focus on its cultivation in northeastern Syria, especially in the Euphrates Valley, where it has the largest acreage.

According to farmers, the cotton planting period usually begins in early April and continues until late November, when it is harvested and packed in nylon bags.

“Cotton production this year is very low compared to previous years, especially since the prices of all agricultural inputs have multiplied”, Ahmad Mousa, a farmer from the village of Nasran in the countryside of Qamishli, told North Press.

“We buy everything in USD, including diesel fuel, fertilizers, and agricultural medicine. All their prices depend on the exchange rate of the USD, which has witnessed a significant increase, and this affects us”, he said.

Cotton offers good returns for farmers, with its price ranging between 600 and 800 USD per ton in the areas of the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) in the last year. However, the region lacks ways for selling it, such as factories and gins, but the AANES has yet to determine its price for this year.

Abdul Salam Mousa, 25, a farmer in the countryside of Qamishli, complains about the quality of cotton seeds. “Most of the time, half of the seeds are rotten, and that leading to a decline in cotton production,” he said.  

Mousa describes this year’s cotton production as it is nonexistent because half of it did not succeed due to the type of seeds. 

“The rise of the USD’s exchange rate against Syrian pounds (SYP) also had a significant impact on us as farmers, in terms of purchasing materials, fertilizers, and diesel fuel, which doubled the burdens amid the decline in cotton production this year,” he added.

Mousa, like other farmers, calls on the AANES to set a purchasing price for cotton this year that is in line with the exchange rate of the USD to compensate them somewhat for the losses.