Raqqa’s cotton harvest approaches; production lower expected
RAQQA, Syria (North Press) – Muhammad al-Abdullah, a farmer from the village of Kasrat Afnan 8 km south of the city of Raqqa, northern Syria, believes that the price of one kilogram of cotton should reach SYP 1,200 this year in order to cover its production costs.
With the approaching cotton harvest season in the countryside of Raqqa, farmers expect lower production this year, and they are afraid that it will not cover the costs, which could cause them great losses.
Al-Abdullah was unable to sow his entire field with cotton this season, “due to the high costs of supplies.”
The cost of one dunum (about one-quarter of an acre) of cotton reached SYP 170,000 (about $80 USD) this season, while it was only SYP 60,000 last year, according to local farmers.
Al-Abdullah owns five hectares at the eastern end of the village of Kasrat Afnan, but the irrigation water does not reach his field.
This problem led him to irrigate his field with a diesel engine, after he planted half of the area with melons to reduce his expenses, as melons are less expensive than cotton.
Cotton is considered as one of the main crops in Raqqa, and it ranks second after wheat in terms of the cultivated areas.
Ali al-Faraj, head of the al-Khalil Agricultural Association, expected that cotton production would not exceed 300 kg per dunum in Raqqa this season.
According to the farmers, the next week will mark the beginning of the cotton harvest in the countryside of Raqqa.
During last year’s season, the cotton crop was subjected to a major setback due to being infected with a hookworm pest which caused an unprecedented decrease in production.
Cotton farmers in the southern countryside of Raqqa have to transport their crops to the cotton marketing center located in the town of Salhabiya, 27 km west of Raqqa.
Ali Al-Abdullah, a cotton farmer from the southern countryside, said the cost of transporting a ton of cotton from the Kasrat region to the Salhabiya center, was SYP 25,000 last year.
However, he expects the cost of transportation to reach SYP 100,000 this year.
Farmers are calling for the opening of a marketing center for cotton in the Kasrat region to “reduce expenses.”
Ahmad al-Ali, head of the Agricultural Community Development Company in Raqqa, said there is no plan to open a marketing center for cotton in the southern countryside of Raqqa this year.
He pointed out that it is possible to allocate a marketing center for cotton in the city of Tabqa, 52 km west of Raqqa.
However, he noted the large number of small bridges and the rugged roads from the Kasrat region to the Salhabiya center, “which affects the goods and increases transportation costs.”
Purchasing price in SYP
The Economic and Agricultural Commission of the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria has not fixed the price for purchasing cotton from farmers yet.
Last year, the Autonomous Administration fixed the price at SYP 320 for one kilo of cotton.
The Autonomous Administration Economic Board is expected to fix the price for cotton purchases on Sunday, according to Amal Khezeim, co-chair of the Board.
Khezeim did not disclose the expected price.
“The price will be good and suitable for farmers, and it will be in the Syrian pound and not in dollars due to the instability of the exchange rate in the Syrian market,” she said.