In August and September 2015, CARE conducted a livelihoods assessment in opposition-held areas of Dar’a and Quneitra governorates to inform the development of appropriate livelihoods and resilience programming in Southern Syria. The objectives were to understand the livelihoods strategies in place in rural and peri-urban areas, how the conflict affected the households’ economy, how agricultural livelihoods were impacted by the conflict (crop and livestock production) and how the conflict affected urban economies.
Major crops cultivated in Dar’a and Quneitra governorates include wheat and barley, but also olives, grapes, vegetables (tomatoes, eggplants). Both governorates accounted for a large proportion of vegetable production in Syria as a whole, especially for tomato (according to estimates, up to 22% of the 1.1 million tons produced nationally in 2011 were produced in these governorates).
Crop production has been badly hit by the conflict consequences and is not a major source of income anymore: there was a very large dropout from farmers as the activity is hardly profitable anymore. Only 5% of households in the 250-350mm rainfall zone and 15% in the >350mm rainfall zone still rely on crop production for their income. Most farmers grow more than one kind of crops. The area planted by household has drastically reduced in size compared to before the conflict. Average yields have also decreased (vegetable production yields reportedly decreased by 50 to 60%). The main challenges facing farmers are high prices of inputs (seeds, fertilizers, pesticides), high prices of fuel to operate water pumps for irrigation and therefore lack of water for irrigation, unsatisfactory access to processing facilities and markets.