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Country Briefs

  Syrian Arab Republic

Reference Date: 05-September-2019

FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT

  1. Rains improved 2019 cereal harvest, but structural issues continue to constrain production potential

  2. Import requirements expected to decrease in 2018/19 marketing year

  3. About 6.5 million people estimated to be food insecure in 2019

Rains improved 2019 cereal harvest, but structural issues continue to constrain production potential

The wheat and barley harvests were concluded by July. Ample and well-distributed rainfall in the 2018/19 agricultural season, coupled with improved security that facilitated returns of the internally displaced, resulted in a significant expansion of the area under cereals. The 2019 harvested wheat area (1.26 million hectares) was almost double than in 2018, but it was still 25 percent below the pre-crisis (2002-2011) average. The 2019 harvested barley area (1.34 million hectares) increased by over 70 percent compared to previous year and was similar to the pre-crisis average. High temperatures in May had an adverse effect on wheat grain filling, constraining yields. According to the FAO/WFP Crop and Food Security Assessment Mission, fielded in June and July 2019, the 2019 wheat production is estimated at 2.2 million tonnes, up from 1.2 million tonnes in 2018, but still below the pre-crisis level of 4.1 million tonnes (2002-2011). At 2 million tonnes, the barley harvest is more than five times that of 2018 and over 150 percent higher than the pre-crisis levels.

Although fires on standing cereal crops are not unusual near the harvest time, they were much more frequent and intense in 2019 due to high temperatures and strong winds. The Government estimated that about 85 000 hectares of crops were burnt in 2019. Many fires may have started accidentally, but there is evidence to suggest that some started maliciously.

Farmers continue raising concerns about the high production costs, high transportation costs and lack of quality inputs. Despite Government initiatives have led to an increase in the disposal of farm machinery, the overall availability remains insufficient. Some progress has been made on the rehabilitation of irrigation structures although many farmers reported lack of maintenance. High rates of wastage were reported in fruit and vegetable production, constrained by low consumer purchasing power, the inability to export outside the country and a shortage of domestic processing factories.

Import requirement to decrease in 2019/20 marketing year

The country normally relies heavily on food imports, amounting to almost half of the total domestic utilization. Overall, cereal import requirements in the 2019/20 marketing year (July/June) are forecast at 2.7 million tonnes, about 10 percent above the five‑year average. Most of the cereal imports are sourced from the Russian Federation.

About 6.5 million people estimated to be food insecure

About 6.5 million people are estimated to be food insecure and in need of food and livelihoods support. An additional 2.5 million people are at risk of food insecurity and need livelihoods support to strengthen their resilience.

While prices had initially decreased since their peak in December 2016, they have been gradually increasing again over the past 12 to 14 months largely as a result of higher fuel prices and a continuous depreciation of the Syrian Pound on the informal exchange market (the SYP has depreciated by 34 percent against the US Dollar since June 2018).

As of late August 2019, over 5.6 million Syrian refugees were registered in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. The number of registered refugees has been stable since early 2018. In addition, a large number of Syrians live abroad without seeking refugee registration.

Disclaimer: The designations employed and the presentation of material in this information product do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of FAO concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.