Looming crisis | SDF-held areas run out of flour reserves
Directorates administrating bread bakeries in areas under the control of the Autonomous Administration have issued decisions allowing bakeries owners to mix wheat flour with corn flour in the wake of the acute shortage of wheat and wheat flour in the region.
Meanwhile, SDF-controlled areas have experienced popular discontent over the poor quality of bread, despite the promises by relevant authorities to improve the bread quality.
The Syrian Observatory has monitored reaction of civilians awaiting in front of bread bakeries in light of the deteriorating crisis, where a civilian known by his initials as A. S. told SOHR, “we are in a country known for planting wheat. It is shame to increase the price of bread packs and other products. Where is the administration and why have not corrupt officials been held accountable so far?”
Another civilian known as N. S. said that the residents have been forced to by high-quality bread, despite of its high prices. The suspension of some bread bakeries due to the lack of flour has exacerbated the situation further.
According to SOHR sources, the crisis can be reach an end only when wheat agriculture production is sufficient, but if farmers get low production, then disastrous repercussions will hit the region, especially since SDF-held areas have run out of the wheat reserves. Accordingly, wheat flour is mixed with corn flour, while importing wheat from other countries will cost too much, let alone the siege imposed in the region.
The local production of wheat in 2021 did not exceed 300,000 tons due to the reduced rainfall, so more amount of flour needed to be imported.
The yearly consumption of flour in Al-Qamishli alone approximates 70,000 tons. While the monthly consumption in January and February approximated 10,000 tons, nearly 224,650 kilograms a day.
In light of shortage of flour, a shipment of an estimated 180,000 tons has been imported for 420 USD, which means that a 50-kilogram-bag is worth 21 USD. These bags are sold for subsidised bread bakeries for 4,750 SYL each, although every bag costs 85,000 SYL until it is delivered to mills in Al-Qamishli. The region’s authorities therefore bear nearly 80,000 SYL of the cost of each flour bag to provide flour for subsidised prices. According to the amount needed in this region, authorities in Al-Qamishli bear nearly 360 million SYL a day, 9 billion SYL a month and 112 billion SYL a year.
It is worth noting that the yearly production of wheat in north and east Syria reaches one million tons at a time when yearly consumption in SDF-controlled areas approximates 650,000 tons. The yearly consumption in Al-Hasakah, Al-Qamishli and surrounding areas approximates 300,000 tons, while it reaches 350,000 tons in Kobani and Deir Ezzor.