Darbasiyah, Syria– They call it “the white gold”. However, after the-three-year-crisis, farmers rarely plant cotton for summer crops. ARA News has met some planters to discuss the agricultural situation in Hasakah province, northeast of Syria, over the past three years.
Abdulhamid al-Malla, a farmer for more than 25 years, talked to ARA News about the agricultural difficulties over the past years saying, “Cotton used to be the main summer crop in Hasakah where 100% of farmers grew it. The government used to bear all planting costs that time by providing seeds and fertilizers as well as loans. The situation is different now; the government has stopped its support for three years. Farmers are now the sole responsible for providing the necessities of cotton planting but in double prices. Only 10% of farmers plant it now as they own big lands and are willing to grow it in small areas. However, the profits are worthless comparing to the costs.”
According to al-Mallah, cotton planting has recently faced various problems such as shortage of labour forces.
“The deteriorating security situations prevented workers, who used to come to our province from the environs of Raqqa, Deir ez-Zor and Aleppo, from coming to work in the farms here. In addition to the high costs of freightage that was 25 thousand Syrian Liras but now 125 thousand SL for one truck,” al-Mallah told ARA News.
Ahmad Saleh is another farmer in Darbasiyah who used to plant cotton. He told ARA News: “Last year, I was one of few people who grew cotton in Darbasiyah due to lack of proper fuel; the only type available was causing damage to machinery. The lack of fertilizers or their high prices was also a big problem; one ton may reach 100 thousand SL. The prices of cotton ar high but I cannot say I am making profits, at the end my crop is going to be sold in the black market by traders and I will barely have profits out of this, so it is better to give up planting cotton under the current difficult circumstances.”
Ali al-Hamid, one of the region’s farmers, also talked to ARA News about the ongoing hard conditions for growing cotton in Syria’s northeast, saying: “I stopped planting cotton for three years now and started growing corn. It is not a good alternative but we depend on it. Corn also has its costs; unlike wheat and cotton, you cannot reserve the seeds of corn for the next year so you need to buy them from merchants who bring seeds from Turkey where the 10-kilogram-bag costs 25 thousand SL, not to mention the fertilizers and irrigation. Most farmers plant 10- 15 hectometer maximum.”
After switching from cotton to corn, Ali argued: “Planting corn has many advantages as it does not need workers but mowers and farmers can carry it over for longer periods and sell it in good prices, increasable depending on the quality. The kilo price is 20-50 SL.”
Agricultural sector in Syria has dramatically deteriorated with the outbreak of the Syrian crisis. Hasakah province used to be known for richness in agricultural activity, but the ongoing crisis has apparently overshadowed all means of life including the agricultural market.
Reporting by: Leen Ali
Source: ARA News