There are immense agricultural lands in Deir Ezzor’s western countryside whose length is estimated at 280 km square. Agriculture progressed and thrived when the FSA liberated vast areas in Deir Ezzor province from Assad forces, including the oil wells that are influential and central in the domain of agriculture that relies mainly on diesel.
In Deir Ezzor, the more fuel is available, the more agriculture will flourish. And this is because most of the agricultural lands need specific number of water pumps and other developers to supply water to a large distance. The average consumption of a pump is one barrel of fuel a day.
When the FSA was in control of the oil wells, there were allocations from the wells for some agricultural associations across the entire western countryside. Three barrels of diesel were allocated to each of them. A fuel burner that was allocated to the agricultural associations delivered these fuel supplies. The watering of one acre did not exceed three hundred Syrian lira for each summer season.
Farmers suffered from several problems that include the breakdown of some of their agricultural machines as a result of the blockage of refineries after using unrefined fuel. However, this did not put an end to agriculture in the western countryside since the average production of one acre of wheat reached three hundred and fifty kg. With regard to the rate of cotton production, it reached five hundred kg on the worst estimate of production.
After Daesh took control over most of Deir Ezzor province, everything changed for the worst. The agricultural sector began to be subjected to exclusion by the group, in an attempt to impoverish the region so that its people would join the military training camps belonging to it. They also treated agriculture as contemptible and unworthy by providing some twisted ideas that they presented as “clear-cut” proofs to “demonstrate” that it goes against the teaching of the prophet peace be upon him.
In addition to the zakat they imposed on both horses and irrigation stations belonging to the farmers in the western countryside. Those who produce wheat or barely are either obliged to pay zakat to Daesh’s run zakat office in the region, or their crops would face confiscation by the group.
“There was a story when a farmer produced wheat and then Daesh took half of his crops. No one dared to object to this unfair decision issued by the group. Where is our zakat going?, civilians stared to ask and wonder. The Zakat used to be distributed to the poor and needy in the region in the past. However, the farmers that are obliged to pay Zakat have become the ones in need as most of them are left with no agricultural lands to sow.” One of our correspondent said.
He added, “ After the coalition bombed multiple oil wells and tankers, the price of one barrel of fuel raised from 20 dollars to 75, which has negatively affected the agricultural sector which has been already facing a shortage of fertilizers and an increase in their prices if available; as the price of a bag of urea, which is a key fertilizer in agriculture, reached forty thousand Syrian lira. The rise in the prices of fertilizer was also after everyone stopped exporting them to Daesh held areas for fear of being used to manufacture explosives and IEDs.
The prices of both vegetables and other agricultural crops have reached unimaginable numbers that one kg of tomatoes costs now 1800 Syrian lira; and it is almost unavailable at most of the markets in the province.”
In 2015, the price of one kg of tomatoes was only 100 Syrian lira and it even dropped to 25 lira in July 2015. With respect to the cultivation of cotton, it dropped to below 50 percent, as only twenty acres were cultivated compared to last year.
This indicates the deterioration of the agricultural sector under Daesh’ rule in the western countryside of Deir Ezzor.