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136 CHAPTER 6


because rainfall is unreliable. Syria also produces grapes, apples, and olives in the highlands and citrus fruits along the coast. Horticultural production is often irrigated. About 23 percent of Syrian cropland is irrigated, much of this because of the Euphrates Dam built in the 1970s.


The main production units in Syrian agriculture are small and medium- sized farms, because the agrarian reform caused the practical disappearance of traditional large-scale landowners. Between the two agricultural censuses for which data are available, conducted in 1981 and 1994, there was a 26 percent increase in the total number of farm households, from 486,000 in 1981 to 614,000 in 1994 (Table 6.1). The percentage of farmers whose main occupation was agricultural and who owned land was 71 percent of total farm households with land in 1994 compared to 64 percent in 1981. Furthermore, 57 percent of farmers without land stated that their main occupation was farming, compared to only 15 percent in 1981. These changes show the grow- ing numbers of farm households both with land and without land whose main occupation is farming. This is the direct result of the segmentation of land and the slow growth in the demand for labor in the nonagricultural sectors.


Agricultural Trade Patterns


The total exports of Syria were US$7.6 billion in 2002. Oil and fuel account for over half of the total value of exports, although it is estimated that the existing oil reserves will be exhausted within 12 years at the current extrac- tion rates. Syrian agricultural exports are about US$1 billion, and the main commodities are cotton, sheep, tomatoes, and anise/fennel. As a group, fruit


Table 6.1 Characteristics of farm households in Syria, 1981 and 1994 Farm household type


Total number of farm households (1) Farm households with land (2) Farm households without land (3)


Farm households with land whose main occupation is agriculture (4)


Farm households without land whose main occupation is agriculture (5)


Percentage of farm households with land (2/1)


Percentage of landowners for whom agriculture is the main occupation (4/2)


Percentage of landless for whom agriculture is the main


occupation (5/3) Sources: 1981 census and 1994 census.


409,492 76,199 261,386


11,224


84 64


15


1981 census 1994 census 485,691


613,657 573,193 40,464


409,142 22,860


93 71


56


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