©Reuters

Four million Syrians are unable to produce or buy enough food

05/07/2013

Syria's food security situation has significantly deteriorated over the past year and domestic agricultural production will further decline over the next 12 months if the present conflict continues, according to a new report published by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP).

"Crop and livestock production, food availability and access to food have all taken an increasingly heavy toll over the last year," said the FAO/WFP report issued after a Crop and Food Security Assessment Mission visited Syria between May and June.

If the present conflict continues the food security prospects for 2014 could be worse than they are now, the report states. "With so many adverse factors now stacked against the crop and livestock sectors, and assuming that the present crisis remains unresolved, domestic production over the next twelve months will be severely compromised."

Limited window

"There is a limited window of opportunity to ensure crisis-affected families do not lose vital sources of food and income," the two UN organizations said. The FAO/WFP Mission forecasts wheat import requirement of about 1.5 million tonnes for the current 2013/2014 season. Current wheat production is 2.4 million tonnes, some 40 percent less than the annual average harvest of more than 4 million tonnes before the crisis and 15 percent lower than the reduced harvest of 2011/2012.

The livestock sector too "has been seriously depleted by the on-going conflict," the report says. Poultry production is estimated to be down by more than 50 percent compared with 2011, while sheep and cattle numbers have also significantly declined.