Reference Date: 24-September-2012
FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT
Current estimates indicate well below-average cereal harvest in 2012 following escalation of conflict and inadequate rains
Growing concern over the impact of prolonged civil unrest on the food security situation, especially of vulnerable groups
Food inflation escalates since end of 2011
High cereal import requirements forecast for 2012/13 (July/June) marketing year following expected reduction in domestic production
Poor crop harvest in 2012
A combination of drought conditions, insecurity and rising input and fuel prices has jeopardised prospects for the 2012 winter cereal crops. Insufficient rains affected major rainfed crops in Al Hasakah and Al Raqqah in the north and northeast while insufficient input supply and high labour costs affected agricultural activities. The civil insecurity that prevailed in most parts of the country prevented many farmers from accessing their farmland during important stages of crop development and harvest. In addition, lack of fuel to operate irrigation pumps and other equipment, as well as shortage of harvesters resulted in large unharvested croplands.
The last forecast from an Agriculture Ministry official in May 2012 put wheat production at an above average 3.7 million tonnes and barley at 843 000 tonnes. However, current estimates indicate a well below-average cereal harvest in 2012 following the escalation of civil unrest and conflict that is hampering normal agricultural activities.
Cereal import requirements expected to increase in current 2012/13 marketing year
The Syrian Arab Republic normally relies heavily on food imports amounting to almost half of the total domestic utilization. In 2012, given the poor outlook for domestic cereal production, the cereal import requirement - mainly wheat for food use and maize and barley for feed - in marketing year 2012/13 (July/June) may reach more than 5 million tonnes, almost two million tonnes more than the previous year.
Food price inflation soars to record levels since end-2011
According to data from the Syrian Central Bureau of Statistics, the country’s year-on-year inflation rate stood at 36.1 percent in July 2012, mainly driven by sharp increases in food prices and by fuel shortages that are impacting on transportation costs. The annual food inflation reached almost 32 percent in July 2012, a slight ease from the peak in May 2012. Prices of bread and cereals, major staples in the local diet increased sharply with a year-on-year inflation rate of about 34 percent in July 2012.
The total unemployment rate in the Syrian Arab Republic has increased from about 12 percent to 25 percent, and a large share of population is displaced. High unemployment levels coupled with high inflation rates seriously impacted the purchasing power of the population.
Civil unrest aggravates food insecurity
Continued civil unrest since mid-March 2011 has raised serious concern over the state of food security, particularly for vulnerable groups. Following the unrest, the economy in 2011 contracted by 3.4 percent. For 2012 the government expects a growth between 0 and 2 percent, while external sources expect a large contraction of over 8 percent. The economy continues to be under pressure from international sanctions which include an embargo on oil exports as well as restrictions on international trade, investment and financial transactions. Imports of agricultural commodities to the Syrian Arab Republic are affected by inability to finance imports as a result of restrictions.
The Government’s fiscal capacity to support producer and consumer subsidy schemes has come under severe strain following the economic downturn and the international sanctions.
Urgent humanitarian assistance needed to 1.5 million people
The Joint Rapid Food Security Needs Assessment (JRFSNA) in the Syrian Arab Republic conducted in June has raised a serious concern over the state of the food security situation, particularly for vulnerable groups. The number of people in need of urgent food assistance has increased to 1.5 million (from an estimated one million last March) over the next three months alone. In the next 6 months this figure is estimated to double if current situations do not improve.
The WFP assistance reached 850 000 people in July 2012, up from 200 000 in March. Additional assistance is provided to Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq. A revised Emergency Operation (EMOP) has been approved by WFP and FAO on 31 July 2012 to provide additional 25 365 tonnes of food (a total of 74 367 tonnes) to 850 000 vulnerable people to the end of 2012.