USAID Says Wheat Seeds Sent to Northeast Syria Meet ‘High Standards’

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The US Agency for International Development (USAID) says wheat seeds recently provided to farmers in northeastern Syria meet “high standards for safety and quality”.

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The announcement comes after claims from the Syrian government that the seeds donated by the US agency are “not suitable for farming.”

Last week, USAID donated 3,000 tons of wheat seeds to Syria’s northeast to help address wheat shortages in a region hit by a growing drought.

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However, the Syrian government claimed on Tuesday that a sample analysis of US-provided seeds found they were not suitable for cultivation.

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“Seeds contain high rates of nematodes” [plant-parasitic worms], which reaches 40 percent, and it poses a major threat to agriculture in the region, especially as its impact causes great damage that increases with the passage of time,” said the government’s Directorate of Agriculture in Hasaka Prefecture. The head of Haji said, was quoted by Syria’s state-run Sanaa news agency.

A Syrian government official warned local farmers in northeastern Syria against using the seeds, urging people to destroy them.

However, a USAID spokesperson told Granthshala in a statement that wheat germ undergoes treatment and testing for safety and quality before being donated.

“USAID is supplying Syrian farmers with seed varieties of Adana and Sihan wheat, which are sourced from the region and undergo a series of tests at a qualified laboratory in the Kurdish region of Iraq to verify their quality. First they can be taken and distributed to farmers in northeastern Syria,” the spokesperson said.

The US official said that “seeds are tested for purity, germination rate, presence of smut, barley, worms, cephalonia, nematodes, and to ensure they are effectively treated with fungicide. “

Some local farmers told Kurdish news network Rudaw that they had received wheat seeds from USAID partners and had already cultivated them in their fields.

Northeast Syria is largely under the control of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a Kurdish-led military alliance that has been a major US participant in the fight against the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group in the war-torn country. ,

The government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has a minimal presence in the region, does not recognize the SDF-led local administration and opposes the presence of around 900 US troops as part of an international coalition against IS. stationed in northeastern Syria. ,

“The Assad regime, along with its main supporter Russia, does not want to see development in the Kurdish region, especially if it is backed by the US,” said Washington-based Syrian affairs analyst John Saleh.

He told the Granthshala that the Syrian government wants northeast Syria to remain economically vulnerable in the hope that it will regain control if US forces leave at some point.

“Therefore, they spread these kinds of absurd rumors to create fear and panic among farmers who are in dire need of help during this difficult economic time,” Saleh said.

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