ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Iraqi Ministry of Trade on Thursday reported that large quantities of wheat and barley have been spoiled due to recent bouts of extreme rainfall across many parts of the country.
Fearing flash floods, multiple provinces have declared a state of emergency as several instances of torrential rains continued. Dams being filled amid continued precipitation and the increased flow upstream further exacerbated those concerns.
The ministry said in a statement that the “serious material damage” suffered by farmers was especially concentrated in the provinces of Diwaniyah, Wasit, and Basra.
The severe weather conditions have damaged “wheat and barley crops, [which] we were hoping, and still do, to see a significant increase this season because of the expanding size of farmland and rising water levels,” Trade Minister Mohammad al-Ani was quoted as saying in the statement.
He added that the competent authorities in the concerned provinces and ministries must “limit the areas that have been spoiled as a result of climatic developments… and deal with what happened in a way that supports farmers.”
The statement did not specify the extent of the areas affected.
Iraq remains a major grain importer, despite large areas of land dedicated for producing it. In October, the Ministry of Agriculture said it expected crop yields would decrease by 55 percent due to insufficient available water.
The country was then suffering from a water shortage crisis after neighboring Turkey and Iran built new dams, or restricted levels passing through existing ones, on rivers that flow into Iraq, limiting supply to the middle and southern provinces of the country.
Now, both neighbors – especially Iran which has seen multiple deaths from recent flooding – have opened their floodgates since their own dams have been filled.
Editing by John J. Catherine