HASAKAH, Syria (North Press) – This year’s rain shortage has dashed the hopes of farmer Farhad Mousa for an acceptable season after the lack of wheat production of his land, despite his efforts to irrigate it with wells and sprinkle fertilizers.
As far as the area of Tel Tamr in the countryside of Hasakah, northeastern Syria, the rain-fed lands appear devoid of crops due to the lack of rain last winter, while the damage to the irrigated areas varied according to the number of watering times and the nature and fertility of the land.
Farhad Mousa, who rents agricultural land west of Tel Tamr after the Turkish army seized his village of Qasimia in the north, said he had hoped for better production despite the lack of rain.
He added that he expected the land to produce three times the amount of seed he planted, but it did not produce even twice the amount of seed.
The farmer estimated that he lost about 50% of the costs he incurred for sowing, plowing, watering, fertilizing, and harvesting fees.
“I planted 40 kilos of wheat as seed per acre. Now it only produces one or one and half bags of wheat. Ten hectares produces 15 bags, maybe less. We are greatly affected; the loss rate exceeds 50%.”
Damage to rainfed crops
On the level of rainfed production, like most of the northern regions of Syria, the climate changes, accompanied by high temperatures, the lack of rain, especially during April and the interruption of water streams by Turkey caused total damage to the rainfed crops in the Tel Tamr region.
Sa’id Nayef, co-chair of the Agriculture Committee in Tel Tamr, said that the production of irrigated lands, despite the damage, is acceptable when compared to rainfed crops.
“The production of the irrigated areas considered acceptable. The agricultural areas in Tel Tamr are estimated at about 900,000 hectares.We licensed about 55,000 acres of irrigated lands and 70,000 acres of rainfed lands,” he said.
Nayef pointed out that thousands of hectares in the countryside of Tel Tamr were not planted for the second year in a row due to the Turkish occupation or their presence near the front lines.
“There are thousands of hectares located within the areas occupied by Turkey. This was not cultivated by the people of the area.”
Affected workers and families
Amid the deteriorating living conditions in the country, crop damage caused the absence of work opportunities for hundreds of laborers awaiting the annual harvest season.
The number of operating harvesters decreased, as many of them preferred not to work in light of the low production and high maintenance costs.
Fawaz Amin, a harvester owner from the city of Hasakah, does not seem satisfied with the results of his work after ten days of harvesting.
“In the past seasons we did well. The harvester’s work the past two years was good. The workers who worked with us during the last season benefited, but this season is very bad,” Amin said.
“But we regret harvesting this season. First of all, because of the insufficient fuel allocations we received, and also due to low production. The costs of maintaining the harvesters are high. This is reason behind the small number of harvesters,” he explained.
He points out that the lack of production and the presence of moisture and green weeds in the agricultural lands damage the harvester, which means additional costs.
“There are very few harvests this year because of the low production. Many refrained from operating their harvesters,” he added.
In mid-May, the AANES set the purchase price of wheat at 1,150 SYP, while the purchase price of barley was 850 SYP per kilogram.
Naming the price took into account the general conditions of the current season, such as drought, lack of rain and the decrease in irrigated areas of wheat, according to statements by AANES officials.
The region faces challenges regarding food security and the living situation due to the low production of wheat, despite north and east Syria being widely known as the country’s “bread basket.”
The challenges include providing sufficient stocks of flour needed to produce bread, and sufficient quantities of planting seeds for the next season, in addition to the loss of many of the region’s residents as their source of income and job opportunities in dependent on agriculture.
The administration is ready to import wheat to meet the needs of the region in case the local production is not enough, said Salman Barudo, co-chair of the Economy and Agriculture Board of the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES), in early June.
In a previous statement to North Press, Barudo expected that the production of wheat would not exceed 400,000 tons, which is about two-thirds of the needs of northeast Syria that range between 500,000 and 600,000 tons annually.
Mousa believes that it is the duty of the Autonomous Administration to support farmers this year so that they can continue planting next season.
“We ask the concerned authorities to help the farmers to be able to continue next year.
We’ve had a huge loss this year.”