Looming crisis | Crops sustain considerable damage in region hosting the largest number of displaced people in Syria
Over the past few days, the north-west Syria region, which hosts the largest number of displaced people in Syria, has been battered with a spell of cold weather and freezing temperatures which affected plants and crops in that region. Nearly four million people, mostly displaced, living in that region are threaten and may by deprived of getting vegetables and fruit during Ramadan for reasonable prices, especially with the current inflation and prohibitively high prices of food and all essential products.
Many crops, including early spring vegetables and crops planted in greenhouses, have sustained considerable damage; this, in turn, inflicted heavy material losses on farmers.
Local sources informed SOHR that the spell of cold weather which hit the region recently caused damage to crops in hundreds of hectares of farmlands, including courgette, tomato, fava bean, cucumber, bean, wheat, potato, citrus.
Speaking to SOHR, an agronomist known by his initials as M. B. living in the northern countryside of Idlib said, “the damage which hit crops this year due to the spell of harsh weather was considerable, with the crops planted in greenhouses, including courgette, bean, cucumber and tomato, being sustained the largest share of damage. While crops planted in the open, including wheat and barley sustained less damage. Also, fava bean crops were damaged completely in some farmlands. Sahl Al-Rouj area has sustained the utmost damage in that region, which reached 90 percent of the crops planted in farms and greenhouses. Meanwhile, the average damage of crops in Idlib city and countryside has reached 60 percent.”
The agronomist clarified that the considerable damage of crops in north Syria region was attributed to the long duration of the latest spell of harsh weather, as he said, “every year, north Syria region is hit with a spell of harsh weather which usually lasts for 24 hours and causes limited damage to the region’s crops. This year, the harsh weather lasted for over five days, which caused this considerable damage. The harsh weather also affected some trees, including nut and citrus trees, where the average damage of such trees in west Idlib countryside approximated 80 percent.”
A farmer known as M. A. from Al-Sheikh Yousef village in Sahl Al-Rouj area in north-western Idlib standing on the outskirts of his land bemoaning over losing nearly 1,000 USD, after the damage of his crops due to the latest spell of harsh weather, told SOHR “I had nearly eight dunams planted with fava bean and expected to gain a good profit. However, I lost the expenses paid for cultivation, including fees of hiring a harvester and the money I spent to care about the farm.”
The farmer pointed out that all farmers in Sahl Al-Rouj area sustained heavy material losses due to the harsh weather, especially since equipment and supplies needed for the process of cultivation, including fuel, fertilizers, rental charges of harvesters and workers’ wages, cost too much money. The farmer hoped that the relevant authorities, the Ministry of Agriculture of the “Salvation Government,” would provide support to the farmers as a form of compensation for their loss.
On the other hand, the Ministry of Agriculture of the “Salvation Government” in Idlib has confirmed, on their pages on social media, that it was doing its best to support the farmers who sustained material losses due to the latest spell of harsh weather, where the ministry posted a report on its official page on Facebook on March 22, referring to an inspection tour carried out by the head of the protection department and agriculture affairs, agronomist “Abdullatif Ghazal,” and the head of the agriculture directorate in Idlib, agronomist “Mahmoud Al-Jasim,” on the affected farmlands in Sahl Al-Rouj area in north-west Syria region.
It is worth noting that north-west Syria region has experienced frequent waves of freezing temperature and several low-pressure weather fronts since early 2022, which has made the region’s inhabitants, especially displaced civilians in refugee camps, shoulder extra burdens, while prices of most of basic commodities on the region’s markets reached a level unaffordable by the many.