Farmers not Optimistic about Cotton Production Despite the Good Turnout in Syria’s Hasakah

This report by Jindar Abdulqader was published by North Press Agency on 30 September, 2020

Saleh Sa’ad goes out to follow the work of a group of workers, who a few days prior began to to pick his cotton crop on his land near the city of Hasakah in northeastern Syria.

Sa’ad, a farmer from the village of Salaliyah, does not seem happy about the production of two hectares of cotton that he planted a few kilometers from the city of Hasakah.

A few days ago, farmers in the Syrian region of Jazira began picking their cotton crops amidst a state of discontent, fearing that they would not get profits equivalent to their several months of work.

Sa’ad told North Press that the cotton season for the current year is successful and promises good production, but the data indicates that they will not get any profit due to the pricing.

 Sa’ad said, “Last year’s pricing was 360 pounds per kilogram; a dollar was 500 Syrian pounds, but this year’s pricing was 700 Syrian pounds and the dollar was equal to 2,400.”

He expects to pick about seven and a half tons of cotton from his land, but he will not make any profit from it based on the prices offered.

The 60-year-old farmer calculated the costs of plowing, seeds, fertilizer, workers’ wages, cars, and packing bags, which would be the same “as if I did not plant.”

He added to North Press, “I bought a kilo of seeds for 500 Syrian pounds and plowed each dunum (1/10 of a hectare) for eight thousand pounds, and the wages of workers, cars and bags cost me 100 pounds for every one kilogram.”

Qamar Oqla, a farmer from Salaliyah, stands in the middle of his 2.5 hectares of land to supervise the picking process.

Oqla, who started collecting his crop two days ago, agrees with other farmers’ expectations that this year’s cotton production will be better than last year’s.

At the same time, he believes that he will not benefit from his harvest as long as the price of cotton will be low compared to the agricultural costs measured in terms of the dollar exchange.

The Autonomous Administration of North East Syria (AANES) decided last week to allow merchants to buy cotton and to open all crossings for shipping it outside its areas of control.

The co-chair of the Economic and Agriculture Board, Salman Barudo, announced the desire of the Autonomous Administration to purchase the entire cotton crop.

The Autonomous Administration stepped back from purchasing the cotton crop this year after the Coordinator of the Peasants’ Union rejected the proposed price of the Agricultural Community Development Company for the purchase of cotton, which was proposed at 750 Syrian pounds per kilogram according to Union President Muhammad Salem.

But other farmers believe that shipping their crops to government centers in the countryside of Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor will cost them large sums to be added to their previous costs.

Local traders on the black market, according to farmers, are offering to buy cotton at a price of 500 Syrian pounds.

Meanwhile, Oqla and farmers from Jazira call on the AANES to buy the crop and name its price in order to avoid exploitation.