PHOTOS: Despite drought-affected orchards, Halabja launches pomegranate fair
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Despite record low rainfall negatively impacting the agricultural sector of Iraq and the Kurdistan Region over the last year, farmers in the Kurdistan Region’s Halabja province held their annual pomegranate festival that began on Thursday.
The Halabja and Fall Festival is the seventh of its kind, in which 600 booths with over 450 local farmers sell their pomegranate produce.
In addition to the various kinds of locally-produced pomegranates, the fair also boasts other autumn products such as figs.
However, this year’s drought has had a “huge impact” on both the quality and quantity of pomegranates grown, Najmadeen Omer, the head of the Halabja Orchardry Directorate, told Kurdistan 24.
Approximately 14,000 to 15,000 tons of pomegranates were produced this year, a paltry amount compared to the 30,000 tons produced last year.
As supply decreases, pomegranate prices will likely increase, Omer said, noting that “it’s an economic principle.”
“Drought has had a huge impact on the agriculture sector, particularly orchards,” the the agricultural official said.
Lack of rainfall and the surging effects of climate change in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region have exacerbated the drought, which lowered the level of streams and water sources that are essential for maintaining fruit orchards.
Halabja and Sharazur Plains have a reputation for producing high-quality pomegranates and many other summer and fall fruits and vegetables.
Last year, the province shipped its first 100-ton batch of pomegranates to the UK, which was warmly received by customers, including British politicians.
Additional reporting by Avin Atta