World Not Going Nuts for Syrian Pistachios

Syria, once one of the world's top exporters of pistachios, said on Tuesday that production of the nuts has plunged 50 percent over the past year, according to an AFP report.

The agriculture ministry in Damascus said the slump was both the result of the ongoing civil war in the country as well as frosty conditions last winter.

"Pistachio production was only 35,000 tons in 2014, while before the crisis Syria produced between 65,000 and 75,000 tons a year," ministry official Hassan Ibrahim was quoted as having said.

He added that running battles prevented access to some of the country's best pistachio-producing land, including in Aleppo, Idlib and Hama provinces where rebel and government forces are fighting each other.

The center of the country's pistachio production, Morek in central Hama province, has seen frequent clashes.

Severe frosts also hit the crop, Ibrahim added.

The plummet in production has kept exports low, with Ibrahim saying that just 800 tons were exported in 2014 and 2015.

By comparison, some 3,000 tons were exported in 2012, according to official Syrian media.

Ibrahim said production could yet pick up this year, however, because farmers in areas still under government control where pistachios were not grown before are starting to cultivate the crop.

In 2013, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization, Syria was the world's fourth largest pistachio producer after Iran, the United States and Turkey.

The pistachio is a widely used ingredients in sweets and desserts in the Middle East. Due to its Syrian origin,  in Israel the nut is known as “fistuk halabi”, meaning Aleppo pistachio.

AFP contributed to this report.

Source: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/197522

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