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Damascus Competes With Kurds Over East Euphrates’ Wheat

Damascus Competes With Kurds Over East Euphrates’ Wheat

Tuesday, 2 June, 2020 - 06:30
A Syrian man, wearing a protective face mask and gloves to protect against the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, waits for customers at his bakery in the Qaymariyya quarter of the Old City of the capital Damascus on April 14, 2020. (Photo by LOUAI BESHARA / AFP)
Damascus, London- Asharq Al-Awsat

Amid economic pressures and fires that have ravaged thousands of dunams of wheat, the Syrian cabinet almost doubled the purchase price of the grain from farmers.

The move aims to see growers flock to government cereal reception centers because of the attractive prices.

The government’s decision came after the Democratic Syria Council (SDC), the political wing of the SDF, having increased their buying price for a kilo of wheat to compete with the government.

“The Cabinet purchase price of wheat from farmers for the current season ranges from SYP 225 to SYP 400 per kg in the framework of the state’ plan to support the agriculture sector, requesting all concerned ministries to provide facilitations to receive the wheat,” the government said in a statement following its weekly meeting chaired by Prime Minister Imad Khamis.

In mid-March, the government had raised the price of a kilo of wheat from SYP 185 to SYP 225 SYP.

Both the local Kurdish authorities and the Damascus regime are desperate to buy up Syria’s wheat produce to feed their people.

Sources at the Hasaka province told the German news agency that the government’s increase of the price of wheat by around SYP 85 compared to the price announced by the SDF, would push farmers to market their crops through the government-owned centers.

Syria’s wheat is mostly cultivated in SDF-controlled areas of northeast Syria, such as Deir Ezzor, Raqqa, Hasaka, and the countryside of Aleppo.

Wheat production has greatly decreased in the country, declining from an average of 4.1 million tons per year before 2011, to 2.2 million tons in 2019, the worst in years.

During the past couple of days, large areas of wheat crop fields were burned in the Hasaka province, inflicting heavy losses in the sector.

The Euphrates Post news site quoted its correspondent in Hasaka as saying that a big fire erupted last Saturday in the wheat and barley fields near the village of Wedyan, west Raqqa.

“Tens of civilians rushed to the scene to extinguish the fire using traditional equipment. Around 350 dunams of harvest were completely burnt,” he said.

According to the World Food Program, 6.5 million people in Syria are "food insecure", or do not know where their next meal is coming from.

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