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ROME, Jan 23 (Reuters) - Ongoing conflict in Syria has left its agricultural sector in tatters, causing wheat and barley output to slump by half and wreaking massive destruction on farm infrastructure, the United Nations' food agency said on Wednesday.
Following a U.N. assessment mission in Syria from Jan. 18-22, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said wheat and barley output had dropped to 2 million tonnes in 2012, halving from 4-4.5 million tonnes in normal years.
"The mission was struck by the plight of the Syrian people whose capacity to cope is dramatically eroded by 22 months of crisis," Dominique Burgeon, director of FAO's Emergency and Rehabilitation Division, said in a statement.
The mission, coordinated with both the Syrian government and the opposition, also found the conflict was causing major destruction of infrastructure and irrigation systems and farmers were struggling to fully harvest crops due to insecurity and lack of fuel.
(Reporting By Catherine Hornby)