Al-Hasakeh, Syria Agricultural Assessment
Benefiting from deep top soils and environmental conditions well-suited for dry-land (e.g., non-irrigated) grain production, the Al-Hasakeh region has supported human populations for an estimated 7,000 years, and in modern times has been considered a major breadbasket for the Syrian economy. As a large regional player in the Syrian agricultural economy (and to some degree as an oil producer given its local reserves), pre-crisis AlHasakeh was a relatively modern, industrial-style agricultural producer in a middle-income country, with large tracts of farmland in relatively large plots, modern machinery and equipment, storage and processing facilities, and a fairly sophisticated distribution network.
Pre-crisis, the Syrian government was a major player in the local agricultural economy – both as a provider of agricultural inputs and services (including seeds, fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides, extension services, etc.) and as the sole legal buyer of key agricultural products such as wheat and cotton. Today, the Syrian government still remains the sole legal buyer of wheat but no longer buys Al-Hasakeh-produced cotton, and has decreased its level of agricultural support. This change in Syrian government support - along with the continual impact of the Syrian conflict to the economy and trade flows - has had a strong, lasting and generally negative impact on the Al-Hasakeh agricultural economy, outlined in detail below. However, there are opportunities for strong, positive interventions, which can make the lives of those living in Al-Hasakeh measurably better whilst capitalizing on existing resources and skills.