Shafaq News / The Derik (Al-Malikiyah) region in northeastern Syria is famous for its tobacco cultivation, a profession inherited from ancestors over the past decades. This area is known for its fertile agricultural soil, especially in villages on the border with Turkey in the Kurdish-led autonomous region of Syria.
Over the past few years, farmers have cultivated tobacco for personal use and simple sale. Generally, tobacco is one of the most important economic crops in Syria. According to information on the State Tobacco Corporation's website, "Tobacco is the third agricultural crop in Syria.. it employs about 60,000 farmers, and about 90,000 people live on its agriculture, industry, and trade".
According to official information, tobacco cultivation has been spreading over the past few years.. from the coast to the Jungle area in the central Syrian countryside of Hama. This year, some 27,000 dunums were cultivated with tobacco instead of wheat and barley.
"This year, I allocated 50 dunums of land for tobacco cultivation after years of interruption due to the Syrian government's ban on cultivating it", Sabri Abdi, a farmer from the Qasruk village in the Derik region, told Shafaq News agency.
"Tobacco cultivation in our region begins in late April and the beginning of May, while the harvest time is in September", he added.
" After harvesting, Tobacco processing involves fastening the leaves to ropes. Following hanging them overnight untill they dry, we case, slice, and blend with a special machine. After that, we put the product to marketing", Abdi elaborated.
"Tobacco cultivation and trade are paying good financial returns.. Especially given the economic decline in the region, people's need for jobs, and the high cost of shipping and importing materials", Abdi said.
Before the Syrian protests in 2011, Derik's residents used to grow tobacco in small areas within their gardens to cover their personal tobacco needs due to the Syrian government's ban on tobacco cultivation, for fear of diverting the lands to grow cannabis.