Helping communities to grow through the crisis in Syria

Publié: 30 juin 2014 15:17 CET

By Vivian Tou’meh, SARC

With Syrian wheat production predicted to be 52 per cent below previous levels, urgent action has been taken by the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) in conjunction with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to help people to provide for their own futures.

Weather changes, drought conditions together with the conflict are adding pressure on an already dire food security situation. There has been a huge impact on agriculture, livestock and a reduction in wheat and barley production – the two most important crops in Syria - in key areas of the country.

According to FAO, the total area planted with wheat is estimated to have declined by about 15 per cent as compared with the average of recent years. Wheat production is expected to be 1.97 million tonnes for 2014 (52 per cent below the average for the 2001-2011 period.)

With planting season for the next harvest fast approaching, it was important to act quickly to help displaced families and other vulnerable farmers face the long-term threats to their food security and economic survival. Some communities are hard to reach, due to closed roads or fighting, but this is where SARC is able to play a vital role. SARC has helped to deliver seeds and livestock feed to places including Idleb, Hama and Aleppo governorates.

“The Ministry of Agriculture and Agrarian Reform had a challenge to deliver these materials via roads closed due to fighting while SARC had the possible access,” says Basel Salah Eddin, the project coordinator.

The Red Crescent undertook the transfer, storage and delivery of seeds and feed in cooperation with FAO and Ministry of Agriculture and Agrarian Reform of Syria. “Our teams had to transfer agricultural seeds from the Syria General Organization for Seed Multiplication warehouses in Hama governorate and the livestock feed from the Livestock Feed Establishment to the targeted areas in Idleb, Hama and Aleppo governorates,” Basel says.

“Our volunteers hand out materials to agriculture committees working in affected areas, and these in turn will distribute them to farmers and livestock farmers.”

16,220 crop farmers and 1,766 livestock breeders have helped by this scheme so far, and 19 volunteers and staff from SARC were involved in the project. Farmers were given 250kg of wheat and barley, while livestock breeders were provided with 750kg of feed.

A total of 1,317 tons of livestock feed was delivered to Aleppo governorate and 4,055 tons wheat and barley seeds delivered to Salamiyah, Sqailbiyah, Mhardeh and Misyaf in Hama and Idleb.

“The teams started by assessing the situation in targeted areas and identifying warehouses to store the materials, then providing the needed supplies and passing them on to the local committees”, says Basel.

This project aims to improve food security conditions for vulnerable small-scale farming households and poor communities living in areas affected by the current crisis in Syria via supporting the production of grains.