As world leaders prepare to meet in London, UN agency says keeping farmers on their land and producing food is critical.
A family loads preserved food supplies in a truck they prepare to move from their village to a neighbouring safer town. East Ghouta, Syria, December 2015.
FAO 20 January 2016, Rome - With the war in Syria now approaching its sixth year, agricultural production has plummeted and food supplies are at an all-time low, pushing millions of people into hunger. FAO today called on governments to provide a boost in funding targeted at helping farmers keep their lands in production to prevent the situation from deteriorating even further.
The agency's appeal comes ahead of a 4 February international donors' conference in London being convened by the United Kingdom, Germany, Norway, Kuwait and the United Nations to mobilize support for humanitarian work in Syria.
"The conflict has decimated the agriculture sector, which has had a major impact on food supplies and markets. Currently over half of Syrians remaining in the country are food insecure, with one in three people unable to afford basic foods," said FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva.
As national food production has dropped off, food prices in Syria have soared, he noted, with prices in some markets for wheat flour and rice jumping by as much as 300 percent and 650 percent, respectively, over the past 18 months.
With more than half of Syria's population already in need of food assistance, Graziano da Silva warned that without a surge in funding to support agricultural activities, more farmers will have no choice but to abandon their land and move within the country or across borders.
"Syria needs to produce as much food as possible itself, as aid alone cannot feed the country," the FAO Director-General said, adding that a "serious escalation" of funds to support farming in Syria is needed.