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“Required item” local tables and dishes, olives are part of the culinary habits and “the collective memory of Syrians, especially those who grew up in the countryside”writes a Syrian journalist on the website Daraj.

But this attachment to the olive tree and its fruits, dating back to antiquity, waned with the pace of urbanization and the mechanization of agriculture. And in the last decade, the situation has become even worse, she writes.

“The olive growing sector is one of the many sectors affected by the war and also by climate change. The ‘Tree of Love’ is in danger and the livelihoods of many Syrians are at risk.”

According to the Syrian Ministry of Agriculture, olive production has fallen by 30% since the start of the war in 2011. Before the start of the conflict, the country producing more than 70 varieties of olives and olive oil was, according to official figures, 5e global olive producer and 4e olive oil. Olive cultivation has been a source of income for more than 500,000 Syrian families.

Drought, inflation and shortages of all kinds

The article cites several testimonies, including that of Asem, an olive grower. Several factors are affecting the health of the sector, he said: low rainfall, interrupted water supplies, high fertilizer prices and fuel shortages. “which affects all stages of production, from plowing to transport and pressing the crop”.

The situation affects both farmers and oil mill owners, who also face challenges in rationing electricity and acquiring expensive fuel to power generators.