Posted on August 23, 2015

Qatar Red Crescent Society (QRCS) has allocated nearly $1.2m (QR4.4m) to execute a project to enhance the wheat crop in northern Syria next season, said The Peninsula. 

The development project is initiated by QRCS representative office in Turkey as part of much- needed food security projects to reactivate the stalled economy. In the second phase of the project, QRCS will continue to support the Syrians with bread, a staple for the people, by securing wheat for bakeries in northern Homs countryside to help provide it for host and internally displaced people at low prices. The expansion of budget and area followed a successful season in 2015, with a budget of $245,000 (QR890,881). 

The project aims to support the cultivation of wheat as an important crop to increase its production to acceptable levels that can alleviate the daily suffering of the Syrian people, who can no longer rely on insufficient assistance from the international community, which leaves them idle and dependent on foreign aid. It also aims to encourage farmers to cultivate their abandoned lands, increase wheat production in target regions as a strategic food item, create opportunities for jobless agricultural labourers, end wheat monopoly in farming areas, and ease the burden on humanitarian organisations by shifting from relief to resource development.

The 2015 season was good in terms of rain and higher wheat prices. Mechanisms were adopted in execution, including the opening of four agricultural units in the target countryside areas (Homs, Hama, Idlib, and Aleppo); registering farmers under certain controls; coordinating with local municipalities as underwriters; making agreements with agricultural centres to provide seeds, fertilisers and pesticides at low prices through small loans to farmers; and supervising the project by QRCS agricultural units and staff.

The project cultivated 287 hectares in northern and western Aleppo countryside, which remained unattended for the past three years. Many work opportunities were created for the agricultural workforce, supplying Homs bakeries with wheat to produce bread. As direct beneficiaries, the project served 782 families (3,910 people) of farmers who purchased wheat from QRCS and General Organisation for Seed Multiplication. Indirect beneficiaries are estimated at 2,827 families (14,135 people) who will receive 1,032,000 bread packages over one year.

Others include 3,910 shopkeepers and local community members who will benefit from the improved living and economic conditions of farmers. In the next season, the budget will be increased to $1,187,993 (QR4,325,360) to serve more Syrians. Of the 2015 wheat harvest, 358,1 tonnes will be distributed as seeds in the next season.