ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Iraq will decrease its 2018 – 2019 winter crops by 55 percent due to a lack of water, the Ministry of Agriculture stated on Thursday.
Iraq will grow around 315,266 hectares of wheat on irrigated land, the ministry noted in a statement.
Iraq, a major Middle East grain buyer, has a current water reserve of 11 billion cubic meters, four billion cubic meters less than 2017, according to the ministry.
It also mentioned that the current water situation means the country would be able to yield 55 percent less from its irrigated winter crops than the previous year.
“The agriculture and water ministries will look into the possibility of increasing cultivated areas should the water situation change,” the statement added.
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (UNFAO) told Reuters that the cut could shrink Iraq’s wheat crop by nearly 20 percent, implying the need to rely on more imports.
Iraq is currently suffering from a water crisis, which began months ago after neighboring Turkey and Iran built water dams on their borders, preventing water flow to the middle and southern provinces of Iraq.
OPEC’s second –largest oil producer considerably relies on import to fulfill its needs in a variety of sectors, having been a rentier state for decades.
Iraq imports wheat to supply a rationing program created in 1991 to combat UN economic sanctions, including flour, cooking oil, rice, sugar, and baby milk formula.
The country’s Trade Ministry is responsible for obtaining strategic commodities, including wheat, for the program.
The Kurdistan Region as well has been affected by external factors affecting its crops.
Editing by Nadia Riva