Agricultural Policy Impact on the Stability of Farm Income and Water Use in the North-East of the Syrian Arab Republic
SADIDDIN, Ahmad (2009) Agricultural Policy Impact on the Stability of Farm Income and Water Use in the North-East of the Syrian Arab Republic. [Tesi di dottorato] (Inedito)
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This thesis aims at measuring the impact of agricultural policy on water use and farms’ incomes in the northeast of the Syrian Arab Republic. The scope of the research is confined to the three governorates of Deir-Ezzour (DEG), Al-Rakka (RAK), and Al-Hassakeh (HAG). The choice of these governorates, that together form the Northeast of Syria, is due to their heavy reliance on policy regulated crops, which makes them relatively more sensitive to any policy reform. Moreover, the negative impact of the current policy on water balance is evident in the Northeast, especially in the area of Al-Khabour basin, located almost entirely in HAG. In the thesis, irrigated agriculture of the Northeast of Syria has been modelled by a set of representative farms, using the General Algebraic Modelling System (GAMS). The representative farms’ programming models are calibrated on data on observed cropping patterns and water use of 2005. Then, the policy reforms that have occurred after 2005 are considered in the models by changing the values of the relevant policy parameters and new baseline results obtained, inclusive of the most recent implemented reforms. The comparison between the baseline results of 2005 and the post-reform baseline results show that the recent reform is expected to have a limited impact on water use and farm income. Predicted changes in water use are less than +5% on average, over the entire region, although they vary across the three governorates of the region, with negative change in Al-Hassakeh, and positive in Al-Rakka and Deir-Ezzour. On the other hand, changes in income levels and stability are more noticeable in the three governorates and are always positive. The changes in average income levels range from +15% in Deir-Ezzour to +3% in Al-Hassakeh. The impact on the stability of income is of the same magnitude in percent terms. It is of interest to note that the impact of the recent policy reforms, due to the stabilization of maize price, is greater on income stability than on average income levels in the three governorates. The next analysis has involved simulation of alternative policy scenarios, including introduction of modern irrigation technology, reform in the farm credit system, and stabilization of alternative crops’ prices. The simulations reveal interesting policy implications. They illustrate that adoption of modern irrigation techniques, even by all farms in the region, would not solve the water scarcity problem in Al-Khabour basin where there will still be a noticeable deficit. This is due to the still low efficiency of modern irrigation schemes in the current condition of the region, but also because our model predicts that water saved thanks to the adoption of modern irrigation schemes will allow expansion of irrigated land. In addition, the results show that decoupling access to official credit from strategic crops would have negligible effects on cropping patterns and, consequently, water use. Similar results come out if the subsidy currently linked to cotton irrigated from private wells would be decoupled. Of the various possible simulated policies, stabilizing cumin price would have the largest positive impact on water consumption, because of expanding cumin cultivation, which is a crop with irrigation requirements, at the expense of wheat and other winter crops. The thesis adds to the evidence that price policy is potentially the instrument that affects farmers’ decision the most. If effective in stabilizing price for water saving crops, this may be an important tool to combine farm welfare improvement with increased sustainability in water use.
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