May 14 2019
The conflict in Syria has led to a food safety disaster in the country, with 93 percent of the population living in poverty. A number of factors have led to this reality, including the monopoly the armed groups have on sources of food.
Depriving people of food has been systematically used as a weapon by the warring parties, said the “Food Security and Conflict in Syria” that was compiled by the Syrian Center for Policy Research and the Department of Environmental Health of the Faculty of Health Sciences at the American University of Beirut. The report will be released later on Tuesday.
By 2017, the Syrian economy had incurred losses of nearly $380 billion due to the conflict. The cost of living also rose due to a drop in sources in income and salaries and job opportunities. Inflation has also been a factor in compounding the economic crisis, with the prices of goods rising eight times their worth between 2010 and 2017. The production of wheat also dropped from more than 3 million tons in 2010 to 1.2 million in 2018.
The greatest threat to the economy is the loss of human capital due to immigration, death or injury, found the report.
The Syrian Center for Policy Research analyzed food security before and after 2011, when the ongoing conflict erupted. In 2018, the Syrian population stood at 19.4 million people. The country witnessed high death and low fertility rates amid a wave of immigration. Some 5.3 million people, 21 percent of the population, have fled Syria.
It noted that even though the fighting has eased in 2019, the factors that sparked the fighting are still present. This is coupled with mounting human and financial losses.
Agriculture is one of Syria’s most vital sectors. The average annual growth in the sector reached 3.9 percent between 1970 and 2010. These figures contributed to 23 percent growth of the economy. Agricultural products made up 32 percent of production in the 1970s, but it dropped to 14 percent in 2010.
The report blamed this decrease in policies of excluding farmers from decision-making processes. The adoption of neo-liberal policies since the 1990s has marginalized farmers and reduced general investment.
During the conflict, the food safety index dropped 40 percent between 2010 and 2018. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimated that some 6.5 million people suffer from a lack of food safety, while some 4 million others are at risk.
The Syrian Center for Policy Research report also spoke of a deterioration of agricultural production. Even though the fighting subsided in 2018, agricultural production deteriorated further.
Agricultural land makes up 33 percent of Syrian territory, with 70 percent of production relying on rain.