[Marxism] Fwd: The most unconventional weapon in Syria: Wheat - The Washington Post

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Mon Dec 28 06:16:38 MST 2015

Syria was such a successful producer that it became a net exporter of 
wheat for the better part of two decades — almost unheard-of in a region 
where most governments imported cheap wheat from abroad. According to 
ICARDA Director General Mahmoud Solh, the increased productivity netted 
the Syrian government more than $350 million a year . The country also 
kept a strategic reserve of wheat — usually about 3 million metric tons, 
enough to get it through a lean year or a price spike. In this most 
stable of dictatorships, nobody dreamed of a war.

But all that productivity came at a price. To produce these remarkable 
gains, Syria’s agricultural sector “mined” groundwater to irrigate 
farms. Experts predicted that this would lead to severe water shortages. 
When a four-year drought struck in 2006, devastating 60 percent of 
Syria’s agricultural lands, the country’s groundwater was already depleted.

The resulting crisis forced about 1.5 million rural peasants to leave 
their land and migrate to the outskirts of cities such as Aleppo and 
Daraa. Unemployment was rampant. By early 2010, 80 percent of the people 
in the most severely affected areas were living on nothing but bread and 


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