The agriculture sector continues to serve as the engine of Syrian economic activity and contributes the largest share, at 28 -30%, of the value of the gross domestic product; but Syria is classified as a food-deficit country, as data indicate that the volume of the country's imports of food commodities amount to 2.5 million tons annually.
The record figures of the average share of food per capita in the Arab world indicate a decline in the per capita share of the Syrian individual, ranked second in 2003 among the 19 Arab nations to sixth place in 2005 as the high rate of population growth of about 3.3% per annum is placing increasing pressure on the limited food resources.
The population growth rate exceeds the food production growth rates. During the 1997 -2006 period the population increased by 23.25%, while the invested area increased by 1.20%, thus the invested area per capita decreased from 0.36 hectares (0.88 acres) in 1997 to 0.29 hectares (about 0.72 acres) in 2006. (1 hectare = 2.4710 acres)
This reality created a large and growing gap in the number of basic food commodities; perhaps the most important of which is animal products, where the share of the citizen from the domestically-produced animal protein declined and reached 26.05 grams per day, compared to 35 grams minimum recommended by the World Health Organization, and about 60-70 grams that the person in the developed states gets daily.
al-Thawra, Syria, January 22, 2008