Country Listing

Syria Table of Contents


Agricultural Potential

In the mid-1980s, the government redirected its energies toward revitalizing the agricultural sector. Despite substantial increases in the 1985 investment budget allocations for agriculture, there was no quick solution to the problem of sustaining agricultural growth. Although since the 1950s farmers had steadily expanded use of fertilizers and new seeds and had adopted new techniques, which improved productivity in cotton, fruit, and vegetable cultivation, agricultural development had stagnated. Socialist transformation of the economy and the expanded role of the state in all aspects of economic life combined with the political instability of the 1960s to disrupt agriculture. Although the state drew up plans to use Syria's water resources more efficiently by expanding irrigation systems in the 1970s and 1980s, the government failed to devise an agricultural policy with appropriate incentives and pricing mechanisms to stimulate output. Although low rainfall in the early 1980s and the prolonged drought of 1984 had an impact on agricultural output, economists linked agriculture's poor performance in the 1970s and early 1980s to government policy. The government's renewed interest in agricultural development in the mid-1980s signaled a guarded optimism for the future; economists questioned, however, whether Syria could raise future animal and crop production above its astoundingly high 3.8 percent annual population growth.

Data as of April 1987