Iraq’s wheat crop to hit 4.5 million tons this year

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By Adel Kadhem

Azzaman, April 3, 2014

Good weather conditions should help the country harvest up to 4.5 million tons of wheat this year, said Ali al-Muttair, spokesperson for the Ministry of Agriculture.

Muttair said the volume equals Iraq’s annual consumption of the crop, which is mostly turned into flour and used as bread.

Iraq’s wheat harvest begins in May in the southern parts of the country and in June and July in the north.

Harvesting, collecting the crop and ferrying it to government silos continues until the end of September.

Last year saw a bumper wheat harvest with more than 3.5 million tons shipped to government silos.

Iraq imports huge quantities of wheat every year, mainly for human consumption, as a good portion of its domestic yields of the crop are of a low quality unfit for humans.

Muttair based his forecast, besides good weather, on the adoption by farmers of mechanized cultivation, use of fertilizers and improved seeds.

“We charge farmers only 20 percent of the price of fertilizers and seeds we give them,” Muttair said.

Agriculture Ministry Undersecretary Mahdi al-Qaisi said the country was on the path to self-sufficiency not only in grains but also vegetables.

He said his ministry has already banned the import of many vegetables amid a boom in local produce.

However, Iraq’s yields of corn and rice were extremely low, forcing the country to meet the shortfall via imports.

Last year, Iraq only produced 350,000 tons of corn and less than 25% of domestic needs for rice.