Qamishli: Driven by fuel, increase in winter vegetables prices
Al-Hasakah – Rita al-Ahmad
The regions of northeastern Syria are witnessing a noticeable increase in the prices of winter vegetables, in addition to an increase in the prices of all basic commodities supplied to the areas of the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES), which has pushed the population’s situation for the worse.
Qamishli-based Hassan Khaled told Enab Baladi that he noticed a continuous rise in prices in the northeastern city from day to day, especially with regard to vegetables.
The 45-year-old added that sellers’ excuse for this rise is usually the fluctuations in the exchange rate of the Syrian pound against the dollar, which has become the most important driver of the rise in the prices of any commodity in the region.
The US dollar is trading at 13,950 SYP according to the S-P Today website, which covers the trading rate of the Syrian pound to the dollar. At the start of the conflict in 2011, the dollar was trading at 47 pounds.
The residents of al-Hasakah, like the residents of other governorates, feel exhausted due to this rise, as they use and deal with the Syrian pound while their basic needs are priced in US dollars, according to Khaled.
Prices rise as quality improves
During a tour of the vegetable markets in Qamishli during the past two days, Enab Baladi’s correspondent observed an increase in prices, as the price of a kilo of tomatoes reached 7,000 pounds after it was priced at 5,000 pounds last week.
Potato prices range between 5,000 pounds and 6,000 pounds, recording an increase of 1,500 pounds over the past week.
Hayes Abdullah, a farmer in al-Darbasiyah countryside, decided to plant winter vegetables at the present time despite the great challenges he faces.
Abdullah told Enab Baladi that he began planting approximately 20 dunams of vegetables inside greenhouses to protect them from the surrounding weather effects. (1 dunam= 900m2)
According to the farmer, he incurred high costs exceeding $8,500 for the season’s cultivation and was forced to search for all agricultural supplies through the black market, given that he does not receive any support from the agricultural offices in his area.
Due to his reliance on black market prices, Abdullah was forced to sell his products at prices commensurate with what he spent during the production of the crop, and this is the case with farmers throughout the region, according to what he told Enab Baladi.
He also expected the prices of winter vegetables to rise next winter, which may increase pressure on farmers and consumers alike.
Abdullah pointed out that the costs of agriculture have become high, from processing to production, given that crops need periodic watering and fertilizers, and because agricultural requirements are linked to the US dollar, and this is reflected in the prices of vegetables.
The farmer added that vegetable farmers face many difficulties, including the high prices of materials needed for agriculture, such as the price of nylon, which is used to cover sprouting seeds, as the price of a 50-meter roller has reached more than $190.
The price of “balanced” fertilizer is $150 per bag weighing 25 kilograms, while the price of a bag of pesticides has reached $50, in addition to the rise in fuel prices.
Agricultural diesel is not enough
In mid-July 2023, the Autonomous Administration raised fuel prices, causing a wave of protests in various areas of northeastern Syria.
An official in the Agriculture Authority of the Autonomous Administration, who kept his name anonymous for security reasons, told Enab Baladi that the support that the AANES provides to winter vegetable farmers is limited to agricultural fuel and nothing more, and it is not enough for farmers for an entire season, which forces them to buy fuel from the black market.
The price hike affected diesel fuel for vehicles, as the price of one liter rose from 525 pounds to 2,300 pounds, and the price of a liter of unsubsidized diesel rose from 1,700 pounds to 4,600 pounds.
The official in charge of the Joint Presidency of the General Administration of Fuel in northeastern Syria, Abeer Mohammed Khaled, commented in a press statement on the issue, saying that the rise in the price of diesel included all industrial facilities, tourist cars, private hospitals, private companies, and civil AANES institutions and the military.
While there was no change in the prices of service diesel (furnaces, ampere generators, heating diesel, or agricultural diesel).
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