Raqqa: Intensive cropping farmers are outside AANES accounts
Raqqa – Hussam al-Omar
The 45-year-old Jaber al-Darwish was forced to buy diesel at the price of 1,500 Syrian pounds per liter to irrigate his corn-planted land in the northeastern Raqqa governorate, which is held by the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES).
Al-Darwish told Enab Baladi that he visited the office of the agriculture and irrigation committee of the Raqqa Civil Council more than once to inquire about the delay in distributing subsidized diesel to farmers of the eastern countryside, but he has not received a “satisfactory answer” so far.
Raqqa farmers say AANES is ignoring their suffering by not allocating diesel at the subsidized price to the farmers of summer-intensive cropping systems (where two or more than two crops per year are grown).
In the summer, Raqqa farmers tend to grow “intensive crops,” such as corn, sesame, and watermelon, which are characterized by the short cycle of the agricultural season to three or four months, unlike crops that may have a seven-month agricultural cycle, such as cotton.
Several farmers interviewed by Enab Baladi said that officials of the irrigation committee and the Farmers’ Union in Raqqa had asked them to submit licensing applications for the summer season to obtain diesel at the subsidized price since mid-June.
Abdul Aleem al-Satam, 50, said that the head of the Farmers Union in the eastern countryside of Raqqa had promised the farmers that they would get 20 to 30 liters per dunum (about 900 m2), but that was not implemented.
The Autonomous Administration used to distribute to farmers two or three batches of diesel allocations for summer crops every year, but it completely ignored the matter this year, the farmer added.
Al-Satam confirmed that the majority of farmers bought diesel from the black market, or what is known locally, at the free price after AANES was late in distributing fuel.
The price of diesel on the black market in the northeastern regions of Syria has reached 1,500 Syrian pounds per liter, while AANES prices diesel in its stations at the subsidized price of 410 SYP per liter.
The officials in the agricultural institutions held several meetings with the general hydrocarbons department in the Autonomous Administration, the last of which was in early September, but to no avail, a member of the agriculture and irrigation committee in Raqqa told Enab Baladi.
He added that the general hydrocarbons department, headed by Sadiq al-Khalaf, always alleges a lack of quantities at a time when most of the sectors that need fuels suffer from a lack of allocations.
On 19 June, the irrigation committee, through the Irrigation Canal Operation Office, called on farmers to adhere to the agricultural plan, declaring that the percentage of corn cultivation is 25% of the land area owned by the farmer, which is licensed by AANES.
Due to the low level of the Euphrates River and the lack of water allocated for irrigating the lands, the committee informed the farmers that it is not responsible for providing irrigation water to the violating agricultural lands, which exceeds 25% of land which was set in the agricultural plan.
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