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UN: Syrian agriculture industry badly damaged

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January 23, 2013 07:19 AM EST | AP

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ROME — A U.N. report says 22 months of war in Syria have left the country's agriculture "in tatters," with cereal, fruit and vegetable production down sharply.

A U.N. mission recently visited the country and found production of some commodities down by half, along with widespread destruction of irrigation and other infrastructure, said the report released Wednesday.

Dominique Burgeon of the Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organization says "it is clear that the longer the conflict will last, the longer it will take to rehabilitate it."

The report says about 10 million Syrians live in rural area – nearly half the population – and 80 percent depend on agriculture for their livelihoods.

It says U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will chair a humanitarian pledging conference for Syria in Kuwait City on Jan. 30.