Sat 08 Aug 2020

عربي
× HomePoliticsIN-DEPTHopinionSocietyLC & CSOEventsMultimediaEconomyInvestigations

Idlib faces economic losses after al-Assad regime re-captures most of its agricultural lands  

Banners raised by the protesters in Al-Omran camp, west of Harbnoush, calling for basic services and needs - 10 May (Enab Baladi)

Banners raised by the protesters in Al-Omran camp, west of Harbnoush, calling for basic services and needs - 10 May (Enab Baladi)

A A A

Enab Baladi – Ali Darwish

Obaida al-Fadil, a farmer in Saraqib in the eastern countryside of Idlib, has lost about 5,500 US dollars (USD); the cost of cultivation of ten-and-a-half hectares of agricultural land including plowing, planting and fertilizing after the Syrian regime forces made a military advance and re-capture his land. 

Al-Fadil said that he was expecting a profit of 1,500 US dollars. Still, he got nothing and lost all the money he spent on cultivating his land, which exacerbated his suffering on his journey of displacement towards the Syrian-Turkish borders.  

Since the beginning of 2019, the armed  Syrian opposition in the northwest has lost control and power over their areas of influence, as the advance of the Syrian regime has adversely affected these agricultural lands and their farmers at the economic level. 

This posed a threat to food security in the opposition-controlled areas, with the loss of about 2,300 square kilometers of agricultural lands, while only 1,500 square kilometers remained under the control of the opposition factions, meaning, the Syrian opposition factions have lost 60 percent of their agricultural lands.

This posed a threat to food security in the opposition-controlled areas, with the loss of about 2,300 square kilometers of agricultural lands, while only 1,500 square kilometers remained under the control of the opposition factions, meaning, the Syrian opposition factions have lost 60 percent of their agricultural lands.

According to the statistics provided by the “Nors Center for Studies” in north-western Syria, the above-mentioned figures regarding the agricultural lands are part of an area that the Syrian regime made progress in, which is estimated at around 3,140 km2 since 27 August 2019.

One battle after another, the Syrian regime, backed by proxy militias and Russian forces, managed to wrest control of areas from the opposition, then to stop its progress following the signing of the Russian-Turkish agreement on 5 March. 

Farmers lose their entire crops 

Northern and north-western regionsincluding areas in north Hama countryside, Idlib (aka the green province) Aleppo countryside, in Syria, are known as an agricultural area par excellence. Therefore, people there depend primarily on agrarian lands to get their economic resources, then on small agricultural industries, Khalid Turkawi, an economic researcher, told Enab Baladi

Looking at the satellite imagery of the areas controlled recently by the regime, it is clear that most of the areas are for agricultural use while the remaining area is for low-density residential use. 

Therefore, agriculture is considered a significant part of the economy, along with the transportation sector, mainly in border areas like Idlib and Aleppo. For example, there are several economic fields based on agriculture, such as the use of refrigerators for storing food (mainly agricultural products) and vehicles for shipping the products through the crossings, according to Turkawi.

The farmer Obaida al-Fadil told Enab Baladi most people in the city of Saraqib were waiting to harvest their crops to provide for their families. However, some of them have stopped cultivation in their new areas of displacement while the others replaced growing their essential crops with non-irrigated cultivation of crops, due to high prices of diesel used to operate water pump motors for drawing water from artesian wells.

Al-Fadil plants only barley because the cost of growing barley each hectare is cheap (450 USD) in comparison with the cost of cultivating one hectare of wheat, which is estimated at 525 USD because barley crop needs to be watered two or three times daily according to the rainfall amounts.

The people of the regions have switched from growing cotton and vegetables in general to growing barley, cumin, black seeds, broad beans because they do not consume so much water, and they are grown in the winter as well.

Livestock sector is  in danger

The loss of agricultural land areas also has a negative impact on livestock breeding in the region. Following the battles and waves of displacement, livestock farming moved from the areas that were under shelling to relatively safe areas. Thus, livestock grazing has become centered in narrower areas and pastures, after it was spread in the areas extending from the east of Maarat al-Numan to Jabal Shahshabo, south of Idlib, which are remarkable for its best pastures and its significant size, Muhammad Khair al-Hamad, a sheep merchant in Idlib governorate, said to Enab Baladi.

The merchant explained that after the gathering of livestock in less space, the livestock merchants were forced to sell them “at the lowest prices,” to merchants who smuggled them to the areas controlled by the regime and the “Syrian Democratic Forces” (SDF), and part of livestock was smuggled to Iraq.

The decline in the area of agricultural lands resulted in a shortfall in the forage production, such as dried barley and hay fodder. Besides, the sheep are no longer dependent on natural pastures as the primary source of fodder due to their lack. They resort to eating manufactured compound feeds, which lead to a rise in the costs of livestock grazing. 

The merchant pointed out that the average price of a barley ton currently ranges between 400 and 500 thousand SYP (1 USD = 2,500 SYP), and the price of dried hay per ton between 100 and 125 thousand SYP, while the price of a barley fodder in 2019 (before the loss of land) was 80 thousand per ton. 

Losing control over agricultural land  is not the only reason

The loss of agricultural land in favor of the Syrian regime was not only the reason for the economic losses faced by the opposition. Many agricultural lands have been burned either intentionally or in military operations.

Plus, a portion of the agricultural lands was not grown as a result of battles, in which farmers were targeted. Some residents were not able to enter their lands because of the deadly debris of war that rained down their land, according to the researcher, Khalid Turkawi.

A child was killed by a bullet the Syrian regime forces fired at the beginning of this July, south of the city of Tadif, which is affiliated to al-Bab city, northeast of Aleppo while pulling up some weeds used for cooking from agricultural lands in the region, according to the correspondent of Enab Baladi in al-Bab.

A young man, who was working as a daily waged worker in the agricultural lands, was shot and killed in the eastern countryside of Idlib by a sniper, as he was working near the lines of contact, on 18 June.

Any solutions to offset losses?

The researcher, Khaled Turkawi, explained that the owner of the land who wants to cultivate his land faces big challenges in light of displacement and the weakness of economic resources. Therefore he does not want to make profits, but only wants to secure his food and drink.

Turkawi stressed that it is complicated to compensate for the cultivation of agricultural land easily because it needs massive capital. However, there is still a sufficient arable area controlled by the opposition, but it needs to be stable and safe. 

The farmers need to feel safe, and that no party will burn, bomb, or seize their land or control its resources, in order to cultivate it again. 

 

النسخة العربية من المقال

Related Articles

  1. Three files put economic pressure on northern Syria
  2. "HTS" at a crossroads between its popular base and US dollars… Which side will it take?
  3. Farmers relocate their crops to their new areas of displacement in northern Syria
  4. From Damascus to Idlib to al-Hasakah... Overburdened Syrian Families

Propaganda distorts the truth and prolongs the war..

Syria needs free media.. We need your support to stay independent..

Support Enab Baladi..

$1 a month makes a difference..

Click here to support