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This publication presents a review of past and current agricultural policies in the Syrian Arab Republic. Part One illustrates the conditions and the contribution of the agriculture sector to the national economy. Part Two examines the economics of the main subsectors in agriculture; the “strategic crops” under government planning and other important subsectors; and processing and marketing, with particular reference to the dairy and horticulture subsectors. Part Three examines the structural and institutional factors determining the availability and use patterns of the production factors and inputs for agriculture production: the diversity of agriculture producers, land tenure and labour relations, irrigation water policies, the inputs and credit supply and distribution systems.

The book acknowledges that the reforms initiated more than a decade ago have been conducted cautiously, thereby avoiding the economic and social disruptions that have caused great losses and suffering in many other countries. It concludes that such reforms should be pursued, preserving, however, the achievements of the past such as nutritional levels comparable to those of wealthier countries and equity in income levels between rural and urban populations.

The policy lesson is that “... the appropriate role of the state in agricultural development is an empirical question which requires sophisticated policy analysis to determine in each particular setting. Every country is different” and that “... market failures and government failures are empirical issues that depend on local circumstances...” as stated by Peter Timmer, Professor Emeritus, Harvard University.

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