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The objectives of this study are to:

The total population of the Syrian Arab Republic is about 17 million people with a growth rate of almost 3 percent per annum, rising incomes and urbanization. About half the population lives in rural areas and depends largely on agriculture. Agriculture is of primary importance for food security and the development of the country. The agricultural area amounts to 4.9 million ha, of which 1.4 million ha are irrigated. The main cereal crops are wheat and barley. The main irrigated crops are wheat and cotton.

For the purpose of medium- and long-term planning of the agriculture sector, the country has been divided into five agro-ecological zones, defined largely in terms of their suitability for rainfed crop production and to some extent the reliability of rainfall. The regional characteristics are examined in detail, particularly as regards their agricultural potential.

Nitrogen fertilizers and triple superphosphate are manufactured in the Syrian Arab Republic. Production reached a peak in 1983 but then declined due to technical problems, to reach a low point in 1991. Shortfalls are made up by imports, especially of nitrogen whose consumption is increasing at a faster rate than that of the other nutrients. The parastatal Agricultural Cooperative Bank is responsible for the distribution of fertilizers but there is also an unofficial parallel market.

The research on crop response to fertilizers under various conditions is reviewed. Trials have demonstrated that the use of mineral fertilizers is profitable on irrigated crops and on rainfed cereal crops in good or normal seasons. It is more risky in very dry years, although post-sowing nitrogen fertilization may be adapted to the seasonal circumstances.

Fertilizer consumption is expected to continue to increase. This increase is favoured by new irrigation schemes, growth in the demand for animal products and hence the fertilization of feed crops and pastures and increased fertilizer use on fruit crops.

The West Asia and North Africa region (WANA), in which the Syrian Arab Republic is located, has been identified by FAO as a region likely to have increasing food supply problems.

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