Syria's displaced farmers struggle to eke living

Koudan Abu Hussein first fled his village in Aleppo's southern suburbs four years ago.

He'd lost his farm, and the father of three had to find another way to provide for his family.

He rented land near the camp where he currently lives in Afrin, northern Syria.

But he faces new obstacles with every harvest, such as the high cost of fertilizers, bad weather, water shortages and deforestation.

His fate is interlinked with the land's productivity.

"If it loses, we lose. Rents this year are expensive. We don't know what will happen next year. Farmers who are working really hard can hardly cover their daily expenses... We suffer from problems with the rent, fields, fertilizers, water and medicines. Sometimes we get ineffective or bad pesticides."

Agriculture was the mainstay of Syria's economy, but it has been harmed by its devastating ten-year-old war.

Olive, cherry and pistachio trees grow across swathes of northern Syria.

But urban areas are expanding and hard up locals are cutting down trees to heat their homes in winter.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization raised a warning this year that vulnerable farmers in Syria earn too little to cover their costs.

And that limits the development of agriculture, too.

It said in January 2021 the average price of a food basket was 222 percent higher than at the start of last year.

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