Bread shortage in Syria: three quarters of the population are hungry

Syria is experiencing a shortage of grain and bread.

Qahwa, a mother of eight in Deir ez-Zor, prepares traditional tanour bread at home, because buying the bread in state bakeries as before has become difficult and expensive. “Bread from bakeries is not enough for us. I am forced to make dough and bake it to feed my children. We need no less than 50 loaves, I swear.”

Before the war, Syria had a surplus of wheat, today it has to import it. In 2020, only one million tons were harvested: this is a quarter of its pre-war production, and a third of its local needs.

Professor Omar Abdul Razzaq, Dean of the Faculty of Agriculture, eUphrates University, Deir ez-Zor and Raqqa : “The northeastern region of Syria produced between 50 and 60 percent of Syria’s wheat production. This region fell out of state control during the war. Various terrorist and armed groups have also set up oil refinery units on agricultural land. In addition, the eUphrates is the main source of water for agriculture, and Turkey controls the amount of water flowing into the peninsula [syrienne] causes serious unrest in the agricultural sector. And we have to import from Russia to cover the needs of citizens.”

Imports put pressure on a depleted economy. The Syrian government has limited the amount of bread each family can buy and has doubled prices twice over the past year, pushing mothers all over the country to bake bread at home.

Jamila testifies : “__We buy the bread from the supplier. Today, one pack costs 500 pounds. It contains 14 loaves. This is not enough for the family. Sometimes for a day or two we can’t buy any. Children go to bed hungry because we can’t find bread. Where can we find them? We receive wheat as aid from the Red Crescent, and we have started cooking tanour again on the electric oven. We wait for hours for the electricity to come back, make the dough and bake”.

According to UN surveys, 60% of Syrians are food insecure because of the war. Syria has lost almost a million hectares of arable land.

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