Wheat and barley seed system in Syria: farmers, varietal perceptions, seed sources and seed management

Document Type: Research Paper


1 Seed Section, ICARDA, P.O. Box 5466, Aleppo, Syria.

2 Center for Crop Systems Analysis, Wageningen University, Wageningen, The Netherlands.

3 Harspit 10, 8493KB, Terherne, The Netherlands.


A total of 206 wheat and 200 barley farmers were interviewed in northeastern Syria to understand farmer perceptions and practice relating to modern varieties, seed sources and seed quality. Wheat farmers had better awareness and grew modern varieties (87%), applied fertilizers (99.5%), herbicides (93%), seed treatment (90%) or insecticides (41%). In contrast barley growers had low awareness (36%) and use (0.5%) of modern varieties, herbicides (4%), insecticides (3%) and fertilizers (56%). Grain yield, grain size, food quality and tolerance to lodging, drought and frost were the agronomic characteristics farmers sought from new wheat varieties. For barley, grain yield, grain size, grain color, feed quality, marketability and tolerance to diseases and drought were the key traits sought. The informal sector-seed retained from the previous harvest or obtained from neighbors or local traders/markets-was the main source of seed for both wheat and barley. Most farmers practiced on-farm seed selection, cleaning, treatment, separate storage or quality assessment of seed that was obtained locally. Farmers’ perceptions and preferences of new varieties/technologies and their seed sources and seed management practices must be taken into account in any efforts to develop or to strengthen seed sector development.