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Syria - Annual Grain Report
USDA, March, 2004
Wheat production was very good due to ample rainfall during the growing season. The crop could have been larger, except for a cold spell followed by a heat spell during the grain formation stage. The soil moisture content was very good during the grain filling stage. The General Establishment for Cereal Processing and Trade (HOBOOB) estimates the crop at 4.5 – 4.7 million MT. Harvested areas were reported by the Ministry of Agriculture and Agrarian Reform at 1.7 million hectares. HOBOOB bought 3.6 million MT from the farmers, 4 percent below purchases from the previous crop. For the 2004/2005 crop, rains through January 2004 were very good in general. The final crop size will be determined not by the planted areas (1.7 million hectares according to the Ministry of Agriculture), but by the rainfall that will enable the grains to fill up in March through early May and by the weather conditions that will prevail during the last part of the growing season. Based on similar rainfall years, post’s preliminary estimate of 4.7 million MT may be reasonable.

Wheat is mainly used for milling into flour for bread production. Smaller quantities are used for bulgur production and poor quality wheat is used for animal feeding. Approximately 250,000 MT of wheat are expected to be used for planting the next season’s crop. Bread consumption is increasing at about three percent, in line with the increase in Syria’s population growth. Available milling capacity greatly exceeds the milling requirement for the country.

Due to the change in policy of keeping a huge stock level to avoid losses in exports at international market prices significantly below the prices paid to the Syrian farmers, Syrian wheat exports exceeded the traditional level of about 500,000 MT per year in CY 2003 and will increase further in 2004, mainly to North African countries. In October 2003, Syria contracted with Egypt to barter 200,000 MT of wheat for Egyptian rice as well as other commodities in late 2003 through early 2004. Syria also exported 200,000 MT of wheat to Iraq in CY 2003 and has two other contracts, 200,000 MT each to be executed in 2004. HOBOOB also contracted to export 300,000 MT to Algeria as well as other smaller quantities to Tunisia, Yemen, France, Germany, and Italy. As a result, HOBOOB exports are expected to exceed 1.3 million tons from the 2003/2004 crop. HOBOOB is trying to reduce it stocks to a reasonable level to reduce post-harvest losses and storage costs.

On the other hand, the private sector imports some quantities of wheat, usually from France and Turkey, due to the relatively cheaper international wheat prices as compared to the local wheat prices. Syria also imports limited quantities of flour, usually from Denmark and Australia.

It should be noted that trade data are published very late and on calendar year basis only. Thus, trade matrix tables in this report are based on calendar year basis.

The decision to reduce stocks has been finally made. This will increase the cost paid by HOBOOB to export wheat at international prices, about 30 percent below the price HOBOOB is paying the farmers. The decision to export soft wheat is also a change in policy since Syria used to export durum wheat only in the past. The presence of sufficient quantities of soft wheat has lead to this decision.

Customs duties on wheat imports are set at 1 percent. An import permit from the Ministry of Economy and Trade is required. This is obtained after the approval of the Ministry of Agriculture and Agrarian Reform.

Syria will continue to rely on local wheat production and export any surplus quantities after keeping a national reserve for about one year. Permitting imports of small quantities of wheat and flour for further processing is expected to continue in the future. According to post sources, the GOS plans to expand its concrete silo storage capacity by about 1 MMT during the coming five years. The GOS expects that these silos will be utilized to replace storage of wheat in jute bags in open storage facilities and will reduce damage to the stored grain from insects, rodents, and fungi. Concrete silos are owned and managed by the General Company for Silos, under the Ministry of Trade and are mainly used for storing wheat. Very small quantities of barley and corn are stored in concrete silos. The private sector is not permitted to establish silos. Feed mills and soybean crushing facilities, established under the Investment Law, are permitted to establish metal silos for their use.
MGR Archive 5.3.2004
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Region Type Price  
Russia Rapan $ 700
USA Jupiter Rice $630
USA Calrose #1 $830
USA Calrose #1 Paddy $480
EU Prices Baldo €660
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