Farming Practices in Southern Idleb Province, Syria: 1985 Survey Results

97 Pages Posted: 13 Sep 2012

See all articles by Thomas L. Nordblom

Thomas L. Nordblom

Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation (Charles Sturt University & NSW DPI)

Date Written: March 15, 1987


This document reports on farming practices and economics affecting prospects for introduction of an Australian-type ley system of wheat and annual medic pastures in southern Idleb Province, Syria. In addition to six farmers hosting the original MAAR/ICARDA on-farm medic trials in the Tah village area, two farmers known to manage both sheep and crops were interviewed in each of 21 villages selected from the surrounding districts: 7 villages with rainfall similar to Tah, 7 with higher and 7 with lower.

Average holdings of rainfed farmland were 15.5 ha, and 27 of the 48 farmers had additional areas averaging 4.9 ha of olive, pistachio or other tress. Wire fencing was very uncommon, and grazing sheep are controlled by shepherds.

All reported rainfed crop rotations involve wheat or barley. In the area with rainfall similar to Tah, fallows are rare as farmers mainly use three-year rotations of cereal, lentils and summer crops of water melon or sesame. Adoption of medic pasture in these areas will involve displacement of some crops rather than replacement of fallows. Diversity of crop rotations is greater in the higher rainfall areas, and more two-year sequences and fallows were reported. Cereal-fallow rotations predominate in the lower rainfall areas. For tillage, tractor-mounted cultivators were most common. Seed drills were reported in use by 30 of the 48 farmers.

Ewe diets vary with phases of the reproductive cycle and seasonal availability of grazing. Summer and fall diets are comprised chiefly of grazed crop residues. Hand-fed concentrates and straws (of barley and lentil) dominate winter diets in late pregnancy and lactation. Grazing of native pasture is most important in March and April. Grazing of cereals, as an alternative to harvest, is important in May.

Summaries of production practices, costs and yields are given for wheat and barley in areas similar to Tah, and for the higher and lower rainfall areas. Lentil, water melon, sesame, chickpea and lathyrus summaries are presented for the combined areas. Assuming mean crop yields, using 1985 costs and prices and counting all labor at the farm wage rate, net incomes per ha (in Syrian Pounds) were: wheat, 1870; barley, 1848; water melons, 974; sesame, 714; and lentils, 504. In a comparison of main crop rotations in the Tah area over a six-year planning horizon, the wheat-lentil rotation was most profitable. Reported yields for good, normal and poor years were the basis for estimated aggregate means, variances and covariances of wheat, barley, lentil, water melon and sesame.

Keywords: ICARDA, Syria, Idleb, Tah, wheat, rotations, barley, lentil, water-melon, sesame, sheep, diets, grazing, hand-feeding, concentrates, rainfall, rangeland, economics

JEL Classification: N55, O12, O13, Z13

Suggested Citation

Nordblom, Thomas L., Farming Practices in Southern Idleb Province, Syria: 1985 Survey Results (March 15, 1987). Available at SSRN: or

Thomas L. Nordblom (Contact Author)

Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation (Charles Sturt University & NSW DPI) ( email )

Albert Pugsley Place
Wagga Wagga, NSW 2650
+61419290428 (Phone)


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