Kurdistan Region’s potato market net income valued at approx. $500 million
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – As part of the strategic agenda of the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) Ninth Cabinet to ensure food security, improve the agricultural sector, and market farmers' products, potato production has increased by 200,000 tons in the past four years, according to a statement from the KRG Media and Information Department.
This year, potato production reached a total of 600,000 tons and income estimates were $500 million.
Farmers in the Kurdistan Region produce 30 varieties of potatoes annually, of which 10 varieties are used for French fries and chips.
"The potatoes’ qualities are inspected by the engineers' committee before sending them to the warehouse,” said Mahdi Muhammed, a potato warehouse supervisor.
Muhammad also stated that this year they have signed contracts with farmers to receive 20,000 tons of potatoes. These potatoes can be stored in cool warehouses for up to six months for domestic consumption.
Regarding the increase in potato production by Kurdistan Region farmers, he explained that this year it has increased by 70% compared to the previous year.
The most suitable land for growing potatoes in Iraq and Kurdistan Region is the Bardarash district in Duhok province. Ghaib Ramazan, who is a farmer in the Bardarash district, stated that potato production has become much easier than in previous years, due to the availability of advanced equipment and the high-quality of seeds.
“Production volume is about five times more than domestic demand,” Ramazan revealed.
Moreover, he explained that about 300 farmers work daily in their fields, which cover 700 acres and produce 200 tons of potatoes.
“Cool warehouses [in the Kurdistan Region] have the capacity to store 200,000 tons of potatoes, which has been of invaluable support for farmers,” the farmer added.
On May 27, Kurdistan Region Prime Minister Masrour Barzani visited the Zirarati plain in Erbil to speak with the farmers in the area, in which he stressed the KRG's commitment to focus on the agricultural sector and to market their products on regional and global markets.
Read More: PM Barzani prioritizes agriculture sector
In Dec. 2022, the PM highlighted the significance of enhancing the Region’s “underdeveloped” agricultural sector to further strengthen its economy and diversify its revenues. He expressed his government's support for both domestic and foreign investors to participate in the development of the sector, which could guarantee the Region's food security.
The PM reasoned that through agriculture, the Kurdish region can play an effective role in both Iraq and the Middle East, in which there are countries whose lands might be infertile.
"The Kurdistan Region could become Iraq's food basket," the PM added.
One day, the main source of the Kurdish economy, the sale of hydrocarbons, might end, the premier said, adding "it has been a mistake" that the agricultural sector had not been developed earlier.