Female farmers of Deir ez-Zor strengthen their bond with soil by organizing

This report by Zeyneb Xelîf was published by Jinha Women’s News Agency on 17 November, 2021

Female farmers of Deir ez-Zor keep working in agriculture despite the cut of the water supply of the Euphrates River by Turkey. They have dug water wells to water crops in order to not be forcibly displaced. Despite the difficult working conditions, the women of Deir ez-Zor are going to organize under the umbrella of the Farmers’ Union.

Agriculture remains the most important source of employment for women all around the world, particularly in the Middle East. Although millennia have passed since the adoption of agriculture in societies, women, who took the step of planting the first seed, still make a livelihood from agriculture. Agriculture and farming are their livelihoods. We can say that the women living in rural areas of Deir ez-Zor are born in agriculture. The female farmers of Deir ez-Zor have already begun the preparation of winter. The harvest season, which starts at the beginning of October, continues in Deir ez-Zor until the end of November. [Jinha] spoke to female farmers of the city.

“We try to strengthen our economy”

40-year-old Fayiza El Saeed told us that they work hard in October and November until spring. “We make our living by what the soil gives us. Our lands are everything for us. We plant vegetables and fruits to consume in winter. We should take good care of our lands in order to get products from them. In autumn, we harvest vegetables to consume them in winter. In this way, we try to strengthen our economy,” Fayiza El Saeed said that they see agriculture as a business area in which they can earn their living and have better working conditions, “Because when ISIS invaded our lands we had bad working conditions.”

“We forget how we are tired when we receive a recompense for our work”

Noting that growing winter vegetables is very hard work, Fayiza El Saeed said, “Yes, it is hard work and we get tired. We face many difficulties but we never give up. We forget how we are tired when we receive recompense for our work. We wake up early in the morning and work despite the cold weather. After looking after our children at home in the evening, we go to our fields to look after our lands. We always work.”

They have difficulties in finding seeds due to the embargo

“We, as women farmers, have difficulties in finding seeds,” Fayiza El Saeed said, “We preserve the seeds from the previous harvest to continue planting due to the embargo imposed on our region.”

“The cut off the water supply of the Euphrates River affects agriculture”

Sibha El-Hemad, another female farmer in Deir ez-Zor complained about the shortage of water. “We need water for our crops. The cut of the water of the Euphrates River negatively affects agriculture. We need to water our crops but we face water shortage.”

“Turkey cuts off our water”

Highlighting that they don’t have enough water for their lands because of the cut of the water supply of the Euphrates River by Turkey, Sibha El Hemad said, “We dug water wells to water our crops. We found water in some places but the water is salty and we cannot use it to water our crops.”

Female farmers are unionizing

Ruqaya Al-Hussein, the co-chair of the Farmers’ Union, told us the union supports working women and farmers who are working hard to find seeds, fertilizers and fuel, “Our duty is to support female farmers to form their associations.”