Kurdistan Region planning over 100 new projects to develop agriculture
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Kurdistan Regional Government's (KRG) Investment Board and Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources have been developing plans for over 100 new projects to bolster across the Kurdistan Region, a regional official told Kurdistan 24 late this week.
“We will announce five food industry zones in the Kurdistan Region,” said Mohammad Shukri, head of the Investment Board, explaining that he believed that nearly a thousand new food industry factories can be built across the autonomous region’s four provinces of Erbil, Sulaimani, Duhok, and Halabja.
Shukri added that the projects will be implemented with the involvement and partnership of various foreign and international companies.
Aside from the obvious economic advantages of boosting local agriculture, it also is a key prerequisite to becoming as “food independent” as possible, an issue that has emerged in the minds of many after seeing the effects of both the coronavirus and previous shortages that resulted from embargoes Baghdad imposed on the Kurdistan Region after its independence referendum of late 2017.
“We have too many imports of dairy products,” Shukri said as he announced the board’s plans, in coordination with the Agriculture Ministry, for increasing local production.
If plans like this are successful in both the short and long term, the landlocked region could look forward to relying much more significantly on local produce, meat, and dairy products.
In early July, the KRG cabinet, headed by Prime Minister Masrour Barzani, said that it was aiming to kickstart multiple such projects, many of them with the joint involvement of both the public and private sectors.
“Within existing laws and regulations, we will facilitate the works of the private sector,” the spokesperson for the Agriculture Ministry told Kurdistan 24 at the time, as he described “178 projects” that were in the works.
The ministry has also conditioned that any new licensed agricultural projects have to hire unemployed graduates of local agricultural colleges and universities.
In early June, Barzani chaired the first meeting of the High Agricultural Board in which he stressed, the “importance of agriculture as an alternative source of revenue through the protection of domestic products, support for farmers, and sourcing markets for their harvests.”
In early May, the KRG announced plans to support the growth of greenhouses, to develop infrastructure on farming and other food production, and to increase tariffs charged on imported agricultural goods as part of efforts to make the Kurdistan Region more self-sustainable.
“In terms of farming products, we will fill domestic demand and will have the capacity to export it as well,” said one ministry official, adding “We have plans to fill the local demand for poultry as well and provide local eggs, growing so we are able to send poultry to the rest of the Iraq provinces.”
Editing by John J. Catherine