Tuesday, May 16, 2023

In April 2023, a severe hailstorm struck the al-Jazeera region in northeast Syria, bringing with it large hailstones and heavy precipitation. Unfortunately, many local farmers’ crops, including wheat, barley, potatoes, lettuce, and beans, were damaged in its aftermath. Some loss estimates of the critical food crops of wheat and barley were reported as high as 90 percent in certain areas. With agricultural production in northeast Syria in an already fragile state because of years-long severe drought conditions, the impacts of this isolated storm had potential far-reaching effects on the daily lives of Syrians in 12 nearby villages, including affordable access to food and livelihoods. 

Through USAID’s Economic Management for Stabilization program, agriculture experts immediately responded to areas in northeast Syria with up to 45 percent of damage to vegetable crops – beans, lettuce, and potatoes. USAID experts visited these hailstorm-affected areas to speak with local farmers and provided valuable advice on how to mitigate the damage, including removing damaged parts of the crops. USAID’s experts also shared techniques to reduce susceptibility to pest infestation, such as Integrated Pest Management, an effective and environmentally sensitive technique that prioritizes non-invasive methods and reduced chemical use. Additionally, USAID’s experts shared techniques to use organic nitrogen fertilizer and natural amino acids as stimulants for leaf growth and crop revitalization. These methods help farmers to sustainably raise yields and reduce costs. Following USAID’s recommendations, Syrian farmers reported significant damage reductions to their crops in as little as two weeks, from 45 percent to as low as 5 percent.  Farmers are looking forward to a successful harvest season in mid-June. 

“During the pod-forming stage, my field suffered severe damage from hailstones,” said bean farmer, *Rashid. “The damage was significantly reduced thanks to [USAID’s] quick intervention and valuable agricultural advice. The bean pods have grown back and I am eagerly awaiting harvest season.” 
USAID’s assistance is not only helping to mitigate crop losses for farmers such as Rashid–it is also alleviating northeast Syria’s food security crisis and reducing some of the long-term economic impacts farmers are facing. More broadly, USAID’s Economic Management for Stabilization program is working with Syrians in the agriculture sector to bolster their ability to provide accessible and affordable food, generate employment, and create a greater sense of hope for communities impacted by instability and drought.  

“My family is grateful to [USAID]  for their support,” added Rashid. “And I look forward to a better quality of life and improved economic prospects.”

*Name changed to protect identity.



USAID agriculture expert shows severely damaged crops from April’s hail storm in northeast Syria.
USAID agriculture expert shows severely damaged crops from April’s hail storm in northeast Syria.
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