Drought ravages this year's wheat harvest in Kurdistan Region
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Kurdistan Region announced the end of the annual state-run wheat marketing process for the current season's crop, despite several challenges that have included a significant drought.
Over the past weeks, newly harvested grain only partially filled silos in the autonomous federal region of Iraq, having received less than the quantity specified by the federal government in Baghdad to be sufficient to support the region's farmers and food needs of the public.
According to officials, the plan is to disburse five billion Iraqi dinars ($3.4 million) to farmers and other agricultural workers through banks in the region as a down payment for this year's wheat crop.
Haji Youssef Mohammed, who has been farming for 30 years, told Kurdistan 24, "The wheat harvest for this season is less than it was in previous years, and its prices are rising," adding that "the quality of wheat for this season was not the same as in previous years."
He pointed out that the primary reason for this was drought, stressing that the quality was, in general, quite poor because the rows of plants did not get enough water to flourish and produce a top-shelf product.
"The prices for wheat of the worst grade of quality for this season are much higher than those for the highest grade crops in previous years."
Saeed Omar, the director of silos in the capital province of Erbil, told Kurdistan 24 that the wheat crop's volume for this season has decreased significantly compared to previous years.
He added that the quantity received from farms for this year amounted to 46,187 tons and the federal government began receiving wheat from the silos of the Kurdistan Region for the period from June 22 to August 3 this year, stressing that the quality of what was already received was mostly good.
Baghdad received 125,000 tons from the region's silos, including about 72,000 tons in Sulaimani province, 46,000 tons in Erbil, and more than 6,000 tons in Duhok.
The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) announced in early June that, for the first time in the autonomous region's history, it had received a batch of this year's wheat crop directly from local growers and farmers instead of it being delivered to the federal government prior to distribution.
This step comes within the framework of a program established by the KRG that includes several phases, the first of which will oversee 100,000 tons of wheat to be marketed by state companies and others working with them.
Editing by John J. Catherine
Additional reporting by Renas Ali