A General View on Agriculture in Syria

the total area of Syria is estimated at 18.5 million hectares. Agro-ecologically, Syria is divided into 5 zones:

1. 1st agro-ecological zone
It occupies an area of 2.7 million hectares and constitutes 14.6% of total country area. It has a rainfall rate exceeding 350 mm/year. Its major crops are wheat, legumes, summer crops, vegetables and fruit trees the most important of which are citrus apples and almonds.
2. 2nd agro-ecological zone
It occupies an area of 2.5 million hectares and constitutes 13.3% of total country area. The rainfall rate varies between 250 – 350 mm/year. The major crops are wheat, barley, legumes, and fruit trees the most important of which are grapes, olives and almonds.
3. 3rd agro-ecological zone
It occupies an area of 1.3 million hectares and constitutes 7.1% of total country area. The rainfall rate is 250 mm/year. Its major crop is barley, and it is sometimes cultivated with legumes.
4. 4th agro-ecological zone
It occupies an area of 1.8 million hectares and constitutes 9.9% of total country area. The rainfall rate varies between 200 – 250 mm/year. The major crop is barley.
5. Steppe (Badia)
It occupies an area of 10.2 million hectares and constitutes 55.1% of total country area. Its annual rainfall is instable and varies between 100 – 150 mm/year. It is used as rangelands for sheep.

Area and production of strategic crops

Crop Area(ha) Production (ton) Kg/ha
Irrigated wheat 698073 2186788 3133
Non-irrigated wheat 676004 995323 1472
Irrigated Barley 48935 94939 1940
Non-irrigated Barley 1213943 815981 672
Lentil 116575 129370 1110
Chickpea 76130 53022 696
Broad bean 14933 30990 2075
Maize 29927 109145 3647
Cotton 62339 169094 2713
tobacco 11117 15817 1423
Sugar beet 6396 316855 49540
Tomato 7925 273009 34448
Potato 22439 441718 19685
Olives 697442 842098
Grapes 46821 306736
Figs 9483 46443
Apricots 13780 65272
Apples 53180 256614
Almonds 71563 83229
Cherries 29536 62373
Pistachio 59903 54516
Citrus 43719 1250725
Palm 368 4039

* Source: Annual agricultural statistical abstract of the year 2013

Total arable lands are estimated at 6 million hectares, of which 5.7 million hectares are exploited. Irrigated area occupies 1.40 million hectares, rainfed area 3.34 million hectares, fallow area 0.84 million hectares, and forestry area 572 thousand hectare.
Based upon MAAR’s statistics of the year 2007, the population of Syria was about 22 million. 8.9 million of them live in rural areas. Almost 0.95 million out of 4.9 million people i.e. 19.4% of Syrian workforce work in agriculture. Annual population growth rate is estimated at 2.4%.

The climate of the Mediterranean prevails in Syria. This climate is characterized by a relatively short rainy and cold winter (December – March), a dry and hot summer (June- August). In general crops are susceptible for several seasons to severe ecological stresses, such as frost, during initial growth stages, or to rainfall retention and high temperatures during the maturity stage. Crops are also exposed to irregular rainfalls, in terms of amount or distribution throughout growth season.

The steppe is also subject to critical water stresses. As a principal pasturing area for sheep, it is exposed to a noticeable deterioration of vegetation due to the lack of rainfall and uneven distribution of it and to overgrazing.
Water deficiency is one of the most important problems facing Syrian agriculture today, therefore the specialists do their best to develop drought-tolerant varieties of cereals and legumes as well as develop irrigation techniques for water use rationalization in agriculture.

In spite of the disadvantages of relatively dry and hot summers and cold in winters in this area, the agricultural advantages of this climate are represented by the potentiality of producing high-quality farm crops. It is well known that the Syrian durum wheat has a high crystallization level and good protein content, and that the Syrian fruits are attractive in color and delicious in taste.
The meat of Awassi sheep is exceptional in terms of quality and palatability. Based upon the above data, GCSAR is developing its research programmes in line with the nature of Syrian Agriculture and its development priorities.