Government silos are brimming with wheat as this year’s harvest has surpassed expectations, The Director General of Iraq Grain Board Amer Abdulaziz said.
Abdulaziz said despite discouraging weather conditions Iraqi farmers have shipped 1.9 million tons of wheat to government silos.
“The yields are the largest in 30 years,” he said.
Abdulaziz said marketing the volume, which is huge in Iraqi terms, went on smoothly and covered the three autonomous Kurdish provinces despite tension between the Kurdish region and the central government in Baghdad.
At one point this month the Kurds mobilized their militias known as peshmerga to defend their territory against what they said was a possible incursion by Iraqi troops.
The quality of the harvest was “extremely good,” Abdul Aziz said, adding that farmers had started using modern techniques to improve their produce.
The volume falls short of Iraq’s domestic needs estimated at four million tons a year, but it indicates progress and reliance on irrigation rather than rain.
Yields in the rain-fed areas, particularly the Mosul plateau, traditionally known as Iraq’s bread basket, were very low, Abdulaziz said.
Despite the good news about wheat yields this year, the volume of barely shipped to government silos was much below expectations.
Abdulaziz gave no figures but attributed the decline to farmers’ unwillingness to sell to government, preferring to sell their barley on the open market where they could fetch better prices.
A ton of barley is worth up to 700,000 Iraqi dinars (approx.. $600) while the government has set the official price at 500,000 Iraqi dinars (approx. $400).