Vegetable production in Syria
Syria, Agriculture, 4/10/1999
Farmers involved in vegetable farming in Syria vary from working small, marginal farms around the big cities to an acceptable farm size in the south and the Orentos.
Larger farms in the northeast of Syria are specialized in grain production and to some extent cotton and other feed crops. The medium-sized vegetable farms are producing potatoes, melons, tomatoes and beans, while small farmers are growing other crops like eggplants, squash, and cucumbers. Most small farmers rely on their own family as a source of manpower for treating and picking up the crops.
The reasonable prices of vegetable crops are encouraging middle sized farmers to expand their use of farm automation like tractors, sprinkler systems and using imported soluble fertilizers.
The major annual crops include rain-fed watermelon, tomato and potato. The surface area devoted to production of vegetables is around 158,000 hectares in the irrigated lands.
The state's influence on the vegetable crop is limited to the monopoly of import and distribution of potato seeds and import of sugar beet seeds. Other state organizations are in charge of collecting crops, grains, legumes, class A potato seeds and sugar beets for processing at the state sugar factories. The state-run company for fruits and vegetables is playing a light role by buying and storing apples and oranges at the market price level.
For safety reasons polluted vegetable crops around the big cities are eliminated, when a certain disease is spread in the country.
Concerning mechanization, non-mechanized harvesting methods are raising the farming costs of the vegetable crops. The state company for mechanization did several trials for mechanizing the harvest of cotton, potato, sugar beet and maize crops. This organization imported machinery from the eastern bloc of Europe. This equipment failed and was not able to survive in the local conditions. This company was dissolved and the farmers have to arrange the purchase of equipment through their own channels.
Consequently, thousands of second-hand tractors and grain harvesters were imported from several European countries. Harvesting equipment for soft vegetable crops was never imported. The high cost of manual harvesting is limiting the profit margin retained by the farmers. Therefore, small farmers are prevented naturally from developing their farming techniques. This fact would not be seen at other farms that applying intensified production facilities.
The following data show the production sites of the major vegetables crops:
Melon: 23,000 hectares in 1997, main production sites: al-Hassaka 45%, Aleppo 14%, Idleb 9%.
Potato: 17,000 hectares in 1997, main production sites: Idleb 23%, Aleppo 20%, Homs 14%, Hama 13%, Orentos 11%.
Tomato: 17,000 hectares in 1997, main production sites: Lattakia 24%, Daraa 11%, Idleb 11%, al-Hassaka 10%, including production in green houses.
Cucumber: 8,000 hectares in 1997, main production sites Hama 15%, Aleppo 14% Tartous 12%, including production in greenhouses.
The above description would help to locate the most appropriate site for conducting variety trials in the country.
Concerning rotation, most farmers apply three-year crop rotations. In irrigated lands the same crop is repeated every three years, without a period of rest. This intensive cropping pattern has exerted the most fertile lands in the coastal region and the Orentos valley.
Development of horticulture in Syria
Agriculture in Syria and the Euphrates
Rainfall and irrigation in Syria
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