Amidst low rainfall and restricted water flows, farmers in North and East Syria hoping for assistance from civil authorities

HASAKAH, Syria — North and East Syria’s Gozarto (Jazira) is commonly referred to as “Syria’s Breadbasket”. However, due to decreased rainfall, the restriction of water flows by Turkey, and the loss of agricultural land to the October 2019 Turkish invasion of the region, crop yields this year are expected to be poor.

A SuroyoTV correspondent in Tel Tamr, a predominantly Syriac–Assyrian town situated along the Khabur River, interviewed several farmers about the hurdles they have faced this year.

“All farmers in the region have faced a tough season as a result of rainfall decline which negatively affected agricultural crops and raised concerns about an economic crisis,” said one farmer.

Farmers have used the waters of the Khabur River to help irrigate their crops in the absence of sufficient rainfall in the past. However, the severely low levels of the Khabur have prevented that this year.

Regarding alternative solutions, another farmer told SuroyoTV that, “In the past, I found alternative solutions by opening artesian wells in the area but they are now under the control of the Turkish-backed groups.”

“We also used to use the water of the Khabur for watering the crops from Rish Ayno (Ras al-Ayn) to Hasakah, but this year we lost large agricultural areas due to the control of the Turkish-backed mercenaries,” he added.

A looming food crisis has emerged due to the lack of cultivated areas on the one hand and low levels of rainfall on the other. North and East Syria, like the rest of country, has been in the grips of both an economic and health crisis. Farmers are waiting for emergency solutions from the Democratic Autonomous Administration (DAA) that governs the region. Given the de facto embargos imposed by Turkey and the Syrian regime on the region, it is unclear how much aid the DAA will be able to provide farmers and avert a wheat shortage.