Due to the economic importance of citrus production for many farmers in Syria, the Agriculture Ministry is working to find new markets for citrus crops to help farmers market their products, particularly since citrus production for this season is expected to reach around 897,000 tons.
According to the Ministry's estimations, citrus products available for exports range between 200 and 240 thousand tons, consisting of 20-30 thousand tons of lemons, 170-180 thousand tons of oranges, 55-60 thousand tons of mandarin oranges, and 10-20 thousand tons of other types of citrus.
The average of annual citrus production for exports from 2009 to 2011 is 264,000 tons, and citrus imports in the same period averaged around 36,000 tons.
Director of international planning and cooperation at the Ministry, Haitham al-Ashkar, said that the Ministry plans to have the number of citrus trees for the next season reach 14,218,000 trees planted across 42,239 hectares, with 12,652,000 of these trees bearing fruit with an average yield of 96.9 kilos for each tree, therefore producing 1,225,635 tons.
He added that the Ministry is planning to have around 333,000 grafted saplings available for the next season at a cost of SYP 30.99 per sapling.
Al-Ashkar said that citrus is produced primarily by two provinces: Lattakia and Tartous, with Lattakia producing 887,000 tons during the previous season and Tartous producing 205,000 tons, while the provinces of Homs, Idleb, Damascus and al-Ghab area reached 12,000 tons.
He pointed out that new types of Lemon, oranges and grapefruit have been introduced and are being produced in Syria.
In turn, director of agricultural marketing at the Ministry, Mohannad al-Asfar, said that lemons make up 29% of citrus exports, while orange make up 71%, mandarin oranges make up 6%, and other citrus fruits make up the remaining 4%.
Al-Asfar said that the Ministry called on relevant sides to draw the largest amount possible of citrus and encourage factories to use local citrus production rather than import concentrates, adding that the Ministry also called for launching a large promotional and awareness campaign on citrus.