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Combine harvester shipped from Norfolk to war-torn Syrian city of Aleppo

01 September, 2017 - 16:00
A second-hand combine harvester sold by Norwich machine dealer Ben Burgess to a customer in Aleppo, Syria.

A second-hand combine harvester sold by Norwich machine dealer Ben Burgess to a customer in Aleppo, Syria.

Ben Burgess

A Norwich-based farm machinery dealer is helping normality return to the war-torn Syrian city of Aleppo – by supplying a second-hand combine harvester to this unlikely export destination.

The Syrian city of Aleppo was the scene of heavy fighting between government forces and Free Syrian Army fighters in Aleppo, Syria. AP Photo/Aleppo Media Center, AMC.The Syrian city of Aleppo was the scene of heavy fighting between government forces and Free Syrian Army fighters in Aleppo, Syria. AP Photo/Aleppo Media Center, AMC.

A 1989 New Holland TX34 has been shipped to the city which has witnessed terrible violence and bloodshed in recent years as government troops battled with rebel forces to regain control of the streets – with the regime finally succeeding in December.

The combine was sold for £13,500 by Trowse-based firm Ben Burgess, whose managing director Ben Turner said despite the raft of trade sanctions and embargoes enforced against Syria, there were no problems striking a deal for agricultural equipment.

“It is really nice to think that farming is continuing, around all the bombing and the fighting, and that life is carrying on,” he said.

“We got a phone call from a gentleman in Syria who wanted to buy the combine. That was when the deal was done, but apart from that we know very little about him, as the rest of it was handled through a haulier in Holland.

“We assume he is a farmer in Aleppo, and he will be cutting his crop with the combine next year.

“It is a very old machine. What we have to remember is that to sell a machine like that in the UK is exceptionally difficult, because not many farmers are looking for that type of combine, so it is good to have the luxury of another market place, albeit thousands of miles away. Otherwise, it could have been cut up for scrap.”

Mr Turner said Ben Burgess supplies machinery to about 30 different countries, with export markets as far afield as Iceland, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Israel and Japan – although 80pc of its overseas sales are to the European Union.

Sales director David Fairman said the used combine harvester was on the company’s books after being traded in against a new John Deere before harvest.

“The Syrian market has demand for older New Holland and John Deere combines because they are easy to service and parts are readily available,” he said.

“I transacted with a Dutch shipping company who were representing the Syrian buyer, and they dealt with the shipping so all we did was take to the UK docks.”

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