Iraq rice yields far below domestic needs

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By Adel Kadhem

Azzaman, January 14, 2013

Iraq’s 2012 rice harvest hardly meets a fraction of domestic needs, figures by Trade Ministry reveal.

In a statement, the ministry said Iraq’s local rice produce totaled 149,000 tons in 2012 while domestic consumption  was estimated at more than two million tons a year.

Rice yields in 2012 were higher than 2011 in which 112,000 tons were shipped to state silos, the statement said.

Iraq’s relies heavily on imports to meet its food needs. Food imports cost the treasury billions of dollars every year.

The government alone imports more than two million tons of rice to cover its food ration system.

Government imports also include nearly 4.5 million tons of wheat, 800,000 tons of sugar, 500,000 tons of baby milk formula and 600,000 tons of cooking oil.

The private sector is heavily involved in food imports but the ministry gave no figures on the volume of food that enters Iraq via private trading.