Kasrek is an agricultural co-operative, 120km from Qamishlo, in the direction of Aleppo: it came into being in mid-2016, and by December had 5,000 consumer members that live in the cities of Tell Tamer and Derbesiye. The largest co-operative in Jazira in terms of size, diversity of departments, employees and participants, Kasrek covers an area of around 32,000 acres of rain-fed and irrigated land in the area around Derbesiye, where they are cultivating crops of cumin, corn, barley and wheat, in addition to using greenhouses to grow vegetables such as tomatoes and courgette.
Kasrek has 4,624 members. Shares cost 50,000 SYP. 80 people work in the coop, covering five departments: livestock, rain-fed agriculture, agricultural machines and means of production, irrigated agriculture and animal husbandry.
“The autonomous administration allotted 5,000 hectares to us. We have a long-term project for the following eight years for agricultural products and cattle-breeding. Now we sell vegetables, corn and milk produced from a flock of 1,250 sheep. The workers receive 8% of the revenue, all the rest goes into improving our project, and that’s what we will continue to do until it’s finished”, says Aznad, one of the farmers who is participating in this ambitious project.
“We produce without using chemicals and sell our products to our members at a lower price than the market. The membership fee is $100. Anyone who doesn’t have that money can become a member by offering work or sharing the fee with other people. When necessary, the members help us in the fields. We are going to plant a forest and as when that project is complete, we’re going to open a farm for visitors. We are making a dream come true,” continues Aznad, visibly moved. “The agricultural co-operatives are the only ones that receive a direct subsidy from the autonomous administration. Due to the economic embargo and scarce resources, contributions are minimal, yet symbolically very important, because they give attention to the importance of self-sufficiency for food.