Citrus is the Orange Gold of Syrian Farmers

”Syrian citrus has become one of the most important agricultural activities in recent years. Therefore, governmental plans focus on the expansion of this activity relying on  clear strategic orientations to increase its contribution to the national economy” Eng. Mais Shehadeh , Head of the Agriculture Economy Department at Lattakia’s Agriculture Directorate ,  said in a statement to Syriatimes e- newspaper.

 Eng. Shehadeh , who is the organizer of the citrus festival recently held in Lattakia , stressed  that the festival, which was held by the Ministry of Agriculture and Agrarian Reform in cooperation with chambers of Industry and commerce  of Lattakia and Tartous, constituted an important economic and trade manifestation and a platform to introduce Syrian citrus fruits that have a distinctive taste and which enables them to compete with the citrus available in foreign markets.

Eng. Shehadeh pointed out that more than 30 state and private concerned sides took part in the four-day economic event and 25 lectures were given on citrus fruit  starting from  seed  to reach the level of marketing and manufacturing.

She underscored that the festival this year is characterized by holding it at the national museum in Lattakia  to revive this holy national heritage in addition  to  the participation of some citrus fruit farmers, whose farms were accredited by the Syrian government in the field of marketing and exporting Syrian citrus crop abroad.

 “A number of Arab and foreign exporters from Lebanon , Russia and Bulgaria  visited the festival and expressed their admiration for the variety of Syrian citrus fruits, calling for holding the festival every year” Eng. Shehadeh added.

“ Syria’s production of citrus fruits this year reached around a million tons, 230 tons are from  Tartous and the rest are from Lattakia .  The surplus of this production is estimated at half a million tons” Director of the Citrus office at the Ministry of Agriculture and Agrarian Reform told the Syriatimes.

On his part, deputy chairman of the Syrian-Russian Business cooperation Council Eng. Maisara Al-Haji told Syriatimes that the festival aims at shedding light on the Syrian citrus fruits and reactivating the external marketing and exporting process.

He pointed out that a sea route from Lattakia port to Novorossiysk   and Kerch marine trade sea ports  in Russia  , which are  two  of the largest  and oldest ports in the Black Sea basin,  has  been recently opened .

Eng. Al-Haji  indicated  that a shipment of Syrian  citrus  including 60 containers carrying 1200 tons has recently launched from Lattakia port to   Kerch port in Russia, stressing the Syrian coast will witness an active and important export movement as     relentless efforts are being exerted  to export  weekly a shipment of citrus to  Russia   as well as open other sea routes from Lattakia to Bulgaria, Ukraine and Romania to export citrus production.

Eng. Sami Wahiba , the inspector at the Italian Controlling and Certification  Production Biology ( CCPB)   company,   made it clear that the company’s participation aims at introducing the company to the farmers and the sorting and packaging centers and defining its  granted quality certificates   including Global Gap, Integrated production ( IP)  and  organic farming which are considered a transit pass for Syrian product to the global markets.

He pointed out that the CCPB company , which was registered in Syria, has granted several Syrian farmers the company’s certificates which proves that they meet the specifications required for organic and exportable production.

Eng. Wahiba stressed that global tests prove that  the Syrian citrus is the best in the world  in terms of health and safety production, variety of its kinds and good taste.  80% of Syrian citrus is free from 116 chemical materials that are involved in the synthesis of pesticides, fungicides and herbicides.

On their parts some farmers, who  participated  in the festival, highly appreciated this festival as an important chance for them to display their crop and reactivate the marketing and export process internally and externally.

They called for the right investment of their crops, providing them with more support and facilities to enter world markets.

The black gold is the oil, the white gold is the cotton  and the orange gold is the citrus..Citrus is our  great wealth “ one of the farmers described  to the Syriatimes. 

Interviewed by : Rawaa Ghanam

Photos by : Rawaa Ghanam