Published online by Cambridge University Press: 30 October 2009
The traditional farming system (TFS) in the Ghouta has been an integral pan of the social life and has contributed to the food supply of Damascus for millennia. Very little is known about this traditional and sustainable system, considered by many as a hindrance to development. This study is an attempt to analyze the economic perfonnance of this system. The objective is to evaluate the economic performance of the TFS and its impact on system viability. Three farms, representing the three different agricultural strategies in this area, were selected for data-collection. Participant observation was used to derive estimates of labor, costs and revenues, which are not recorded by farmers. These three farms formed a base for continuous contact with other farmers in the Ghouta. The average values, after cross-checking with these estimates and other farmers, were used in the economic analysis at three levels: production, family and market level. The production system of the Ghouta is adaptable to economic forces of a major city as the high level of market orientation of the TFS stimulates diversity of farms. It is concluded that the diversified farms managed by farmers in this area provide a satisfactory income, which is in harmony both with the social values and with preserving the system, the overall objective of the farmers.
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