The General Director of Wheat Mills of the Syrian Interim Government, Youssef Al-Khamis, said that the General Wheat Mills Company has been securing, setting up and operating new wheat mills as well as operating old ones in the liberated areas. He pointed out that the Company has been communicating with the donors to secure the production requirements in accordance with the needs of every region, adding that the Company is also assigning technical specialized staff to operate the wheat mills.
The company produces and distributes flour to bakeries in the liberated areas in coordination with local councils. It uses the wheat purchased directly from the local farmers and mixes it with the imported wheat which is provided by donors when available.
Al-Khamis pointed out that the company’s mills and the private ones it signed contracts with have so far produced 130,000 tons of flour using local wheat and the wheat which was provided by the Syria Recovery Trust Fund (SRTF).
The Company received 35,000 tons of flour provided by the Turkish people and government in 2016 and 2017. It distributed flour to public and private bakeries via its wheat mills as well as the storage and distribution centers in Aleppo, Idlib, Lattakia and Homs provinces in coordination with the provincial and local councils.
Al-Khamis went on to say that the Company produced 17,600 tons of flour in 2019, which was distributed to public and private bakeries in the regions of Atarib, Azaz, Al-Bab and Jarablus in coordination with the local councils.
He pointed out that the company lost a number of its wheat mills in the regions that fell to the Assad regime forces, adding that the mill in Al-Atarib has recently stopped working due to the intense bombing by the regime and Russian forces. He noted that the operational mills are now located in Azaz, Ayn al-Bayda and Baza’a in rural Aleppo.
Al-Khamis said that the company is facing many difficulties, most notably the severe shortages in wheat due to the lack of adequate funding for the purchase of locally produced wheat as well as the high cost of bread production due to the recent collapse of the Syrian pound against the US dollar.
The difficulties also include the shortages in production requirements, especially fuel, Al-Khamis said. He noted that the cost of baking one ton of flour reached $125 USD, which increases the price of bread for citizens in the liberated areas, the majority of whom do not have any source of living. The lack of funding to purchase local wheat will cause the farmers to refrain from growing wheat, which risks causing shortages of wheat.
The Company is seeking to purchase locally grown wheat in order to support farmers and ensure that they continue to grow crops. It is seeking to import wheat when the local produce does not suffice its needs as well as to secure mills, bakeries, and other production requirements in coordination with the relief aid groups and other relevant organizations.
The General Wheat Mills Company is one of the companies of the Syrian Public Establishment for Grain (SPEG) which is affiliated with SIG’s Ministry of Finance and Economy. It was created under resolution No. 16 of May 15, 2014. (Source: SOC’s Media Department)