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Conflict in Syria has caused more than US$16 billion in damages to agriculture

New report says cattle ownership alone is down by about 57 per cent

By Diego Flammini
Assistant Editor, North American Content

The continued fighting in Syria has caused more than US$16 billion in damages to the country’s agriculture sector – almost a third of its total GDP (gross domestic product).

A new report by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations presents the first in depth analysis of the conflict and its specific impacts on farmers.

The report, Counting the Cost: Agriculture in Syria after six years of crisis, surveyed more than 3,500 households and interviews more than 380 community groups focused on agricultural data.

The report’s findings include:

  • 95 per cent of respondents said if they had access to basic agricultural supplies, including seeds, fertilizer and fuel for irrigation pumps, it could reduce the number of people leaving rural parts of the country,
  • Since 2011, livestok ownership is down considerably. There’s been a 57 per cent decline in cattle ownership and 47 per cent drop in poultry ownership, and
  • The estimated cost of rebuilding Syria’s agriculture sector over three years is between US$10.7 and $17.1 billion.

The FAO said international aid is needed to help Syrian farmers recover from the destruction.

"Ramping up investment in the recovery of the agriculture sector could dramatically reduce the need for humanitarian aid. It could also have a significant impact on stemming the flow of migrants," José Graziano da Silva, FAO Director-General, said in a release.

Seed vault withdrawal

The civil war in Syria forced the country to withdraw seeds from the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in 2015. Syria is the first country to do so.


At the time, reports suggested the seeds were sent to Morocco and Lebanon to allow scientists to continue researching and farmers to begin planting.

According to a Wired article, Syria deposited seeds from its own seed bank to the Global Seed Vault in February 2017.


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