REPLANTING SEEDS OF HOPE IN NORTHEAST SYRIA

Dawud, a farmer in Deir ez-Zour, grew up farming cotton and wheat in the Euphrates River Valley. In 1998, he decided to diversify his family’s business by using some of their land to start an agricultural nursery.

Dawud’s nursery was the only one in his village and his business decision quickly paid off. In the following years, the nursery’s success grew as he sold thousands of trees across Deir ez-Zour and neighboring governorates. “The nursery produced an annual output between 700,000 to one million plants and employed 20 to 30 people,” Dawud stated.

 

A newly functioning greenhouse in Deir ez-Zour

Everything started to change in 2012. Armed opposition groups removed the Government of Syria’s hold on the region, and many people were forced to flee the area. Daesh moved in two years later, driving further violence and displacement. “This area was devastated, it led to a complete destruction of morale,” Dawud said. “The production of my nursery dropped by 75 percent.” As the fighting continued, Dawud and his family decided to leave their home and business behind to seek safety.

Years later, after Daesh had been expelled from the region, Dawud returned to his farm, only to find his nursery destroyed. Seven other nursery owners in the lower Middle Euphrates River Valley found themselves in the same situation, and none had the resources or equipment to rebuild. Without nurseries to provide seedlings, farmers and food producers had nothing to plant – creating a ripple effect that limited food and economic opportunities across the region. “The fact that most of the equipment we needed was unaffordable made it harder to restart our work,” a Deir ez-Zour nursery owner added.

As part of Coalition stabilisation efforts to support economic recovery in Syria, the U.S. government partnered with local business owners and civil society organisations to jumpstart the horticulture industry in Deir ez-Zour.

U.S. officials met with nursery owners to assess what they needed to restart their businesses. Then, after significant input from the region’s nursery owners, U.S. support enabled local Syrian partners to assemble and distribute assistance packages that included farming tools and items to construct greenhouses. “The support provided by the program increased the financial capacity of my business. It helped me lay the groundwork for the future,” Dawud attested.

This initiative has yielded positive knock-on effects throughout local communities. A local agricultural trader noted the impact on scaling his business, saying “the increase in the production of trees and different plant varieties, as well as a decrease in costs, has allowed me to ship trees to other regions, to Raqqa, Hasakah, and Qamishli,” he said. His profit margins also improved as a result of this support. “I can sell my products at a lower price, which is encouraging customers to buy larger quantities. Consequently, my profits increased; my financial situation improved – I am more financially secure than before,” he remarked.

A newly-reestablished greenhouse in Deir ez-Zour

For Dawud and his family, this assistance provides more than material support. “I have returned to the hope of a decent life for my family after the misery of war,” he reflected.

The future is brighter for Dawud and his family as their business is recovering and their livelihoods are more secure. Given significant reliance on agriculture, continuing to revive this sector is key to fostering a safe and stable environment in Deir ez-Zour. In the coming months, the U.S. expects to launch additional agricultural livelihood interventions in Deir ez-Zour.

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