Culture

Despite the difficulties, farmers in Raqqa work to preserve their heritage

Syria

Farmers in the the agricultural village of al-Ghouta, which is located on the banks of the Euphrates south of the Syrian city of Raqqa, have suffered due to poor crop marketing and lack of support. However, despite these difficulties the farmers are not discouraged from doing their jobs.

While Mustafa al-Abbas and his wife harvest vegetables from their farm in the agricultural village of al-Ghouta, located on the banks of the Euphrates river, south of the city of Raqqa, al-Abbas speaks about the village’s rich history and agricultural contributions.

“We, our fathers, and our ancestors have ties with this land, we are sustaining this land, and we have provided our blood and sweat for its sake,” said al-Abbas, a farmer in al-Ghouta. “We call it Al-Ghouta because of the proliferation of crops, vegetables, and fruits. My wife and I work in agriculture, and we have summer crops and winter crops.”

Etymologically, the word “ghouta” denotes a lowered area, abundant with fruits and water, and as such, came the name of the agricultural village.

According to the locals, all of the inhabitants of al-Ghouta own land and work in the agriculture sector.

However, despite its potential to contribute enormously to the nation’s agricultural sector, farmers in al-Ghouta say that their area has been largely ignored by authorities.

The farmers explained that the price of equipment and absence of a real market had made it very hard for them to sell their harvest and improve their farms.

“We suffer from the lack of water. Also, these trees need fertilisers which are expensive. There are no associations that help us, and we buy fertiliser from any dispensaries,” said Qassim al-Jilid, a farm owner in al-Ghouta. 
“Furthermore, there are no bridges [for us to transport the products across], and these ferries are not suitable.”

Al-Jilid explained that due to low consumption in nearby areas, they are forced to move the products outside, despite the enormous costs and hardships along the way.

Despite these issues that they face in trying to grow and sell fruits and vegetables, the farmers say they are not discouraged because their ties to the land are stronger than all circumstances.

“Despite the difficulties that exist, people endure and are optimistic,” said al-Abbas.

While some local and international organisations are attempting to help Syrian farmers succeed in their sector, many areas still lack support and aid. Further effort needs to be placed on aiding these farmers, who play a huge role in the country’s economic development.