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Extreme water shortages pressure wheat harvest in Iraq


Severe water shortages strain wheat harvest in Iraq
A mix harvester on the center of a wheat subject harvesting crops in Yousifiyah, Iraq Tuesday, Could. 24, 2022. At a time when worldwide costs for wheat have soared on account of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Iraqi farmers say they’re paying the worth for a authorities resolution to chop irrigation for agricultural areas by 50% on account of extreme water shortages arising from excessive temperatures, drought, local weather change and ongoing water extraction by neighboring nations from the Tigris and Euphrates rivers – all elements which have closely strained wheat manufacturing. Credit score: AP Photograph/Hadi Mizban

Salah Chelab crushed a husk of wheat plucked from his sprawling farmland south of Baghdad and inspected its seeds within the palm of 1 hand. They had been a number of grams lighter than he hoped.

“It is due to the water shortages,” he mentioned, the farm machine roaring behind him, chopping and gathering his yr’s wheat harvest.

Chelab had planted most of his 10 acres (4 hectares) of land, however he was solely in a position to irrigate 1 / 4 of it after the Agriculture Ministry launched strict water quotas through the rising season, he mentioned. The produce he was rising on the remainder of it, he fears, “will die with out water.”

At a time when worldwide costs for wheat have soared on account of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Iraqi farmers say they’re paying the worth for a authorities resolution to chop irrigation for agricultural areas by 50%.

The federal government took the step within the face of extreme arising from excessive temperatures and drought—believed to be fueled by —and ongoing water extraction by neighboring nations from the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. All these elements have closely strained .

Wrestling with the , Iraq’s authorities has been unable to deal with different long-neglected points.

Severe water shortages strain wheat harvest in Iraq
A mix harvester on the center of a wheat subject harvesting crops in Yousifiyah, Iraq Tuesday, Could. 24, 2022. At a time when worldwide costs for wheat have soared on account of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Iraqi farmers say they’re paying the worth for a authorities resolution to chop irrigation for agricultural areas by 50% on account of extreme water shortages arising from excessive temperatures, drought, local weather change and ongoing water extraction by neighboring nations from the Tigris and Euphrates rivers – all elements which have closely strained wheat manufacturing. Credit score: AP Photograph/Hadi Mizban

Desertification has been blamed as an element behind this yr’s relentless spate of sandstorms. At the very least 10 have hit the nation prior to now few months, masking cities with a thick blanket of orange mud, grounding flights and sending hundreds to hospitals.

“We’d like water to resolve the issue of desertification, however we additionally want water to safe our meals provides,” mentioned Essa Fayadh, a senior official on the Atmosphere Ministry. “We do not have sufficient for each.”

Iraq depends on the Tigris and Euphrates rivers for almost all of its water wants. Each circulation into Iraq from Turkey and Iran. These nations have constructed dams which have both blocked or diverted water, creating main shortages in Iraq.

Water Assets Minister Mahdi Rasheed instructed The Related Press that river ranges had been down 60% in comparison with final yr.

Severe water shortages strain wheat harvest in Iraq
Considerably decrease water ranges are seen on the Tigris River, in Baghdad, Iraq, Saturday, Could 28, 2022. At a time when worldwide costs for wheat have soared on account of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Iraqi farmers say they’re paying the worth for a authorities resolution to chop irrigation for agricultural areas by 50% on account of extreme water shortages arising from excessive temperatures, drought, local weather change and ongoing water extraction by neighboring nations from the Tigris and Euphrates rivers – all elements which have closely strained wheat manufacturing. Credit score: AP Photograph/Hadi Mizban

For Chelab, much less water has meant a smaller grain dimension and decrease crop yields.

In 2021, Chelab produced 30,000 tons of wheat, the yr earlier than that 32,000, receipts from Commerce Ministry silos present. This yr, he expects not more than 10,000.

His crops are each rain-fed and irrigated by way of a channel from the Euphrates. Resulting from low precipitation ranges, he has needed to depend on the river water through the rising season, he mentioned.

Authorities officers say change is critical.

The present system has been inefficient and unsustainable for many years. Water shortage is leaving them no selection however to push to modernize antiquated and wasteful farming methods.

“We have now a to face drought contemplating the dearth of rain, , and the dearth of irrigation coming from neighboring nations as we didn’t get our share of entitlements,” mentioned Hamid al-Naif, spokesman on the Agriculture Ministry.

Severe water shortages strain wheat harvest in Iraq
A mix harvester on the center of a wheat subject harvesting crops in Yousifiyah, Iraq Tuesday, Could. 24, 2022. At a time when worldwide costs for wheat have soared on account of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Iraqi farmers say they’re paying the worth for a authorities resolution to chop irrigation for agricultural areas by 50% on account of extreme water shortages arising from excessive temperatures, drought, local weather change and ongoing water extraction by neighboring nations from the Tigris and Euphrates rivers – all elements which have closely strained wheat manufacturing. Credit score: AP Photograph/Hadi Mizban

The ministry took measures to plot new sorts of drought-resistant wheat and introduce strategies to extend crop yields.

“We’re nonetheless coping with irrigation techniques of the Fifties. It has nothing to do with the farmers,” he mentioned. “The state should make it environment friendly, we should power the to simply accept it.”

Iraqi farmers have traditionally been closely depending on the state within the manufacturing of meals, a reliance that policymakers and specialists mentioned drains authorities funds.

The Agriculture Ministry helps farmers by offering every part from harvesting instruments, seeds, fertilizers and pesticides at a backed price or without spending a dime. Water diverted from rivers for irrigation is given without charge. The Commerce Ministry then shops or buys produce from farmers and distributes it to markets.

Wheat is a key strategic crop, accounting for 70% of complete cereal manufacturing within the nation.

Severe water shortages strain wheat harvest in Iraq
A mix harvester on the center of a wheat subject harvesting crops in Yousifiyah, Iraq Tuesday, Could. 24, 2022. At a time when worldwide costs for wheat have soared on account of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Iraqi farmers say they’re paying the worth for a authorities resolution to chop irrigation for agricultural areas by 50% on account of extreme water shortages arising from excessive temperatures, drought, local weather change and ongoing water extraction by neighboring nations from the Tigris and Euphrates rivers – all elements which have closely strained wheat manufacturing. Credit score: AP Photograph/Hadi Mizban

Planting begins in October and harvest usually begins in April and extends to June in some areas. Final yr, the Agriculture Ministry slashed subsidies for fertilizers, seeds and pesticides, a transfer that has angered farmers.

Native demand for the staple is between 5-6 million tons a yr. However native manufacturing is shrinking with every passing yr. In 2021, Iraq produced 4.2 million tons of wheat, in response to the Agriculture Ministry. In 2020, it was 6.2 million tons.

“At present we would get 2.5 million tons at greatest,” mentioned al-Naif. That might require Iraq to drive up imports.

A lot of the wheat harvest is normally offered to the Commerce Ministry. In an indication of the low harvest, up to now there are at the moment solely 373,000 tons of wheat out there in Commerce Ministry storehouses, al-Naif mentioned.

To fulfill calls for amid the latest international disaster within the grain market, the federal government lately modified a coverage to permit all Iraqi farmers to promote their produce to the Commerce Ministry silos. Beforehand, this was restricted to farmers who operated throughout the authorities plan.

  • Severe water shortages strain wheat harvest in Iraq
    A mix harvester on the center of a wheat subject harvesting crops in Yousifiyah, Iraq Tuesday, Could. 24, 2022. At a time when worldwide costs for wheat have soared on account of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Iraqi farmers say they’re paying the worth for a authorities resolution to chop irrigation for agricultural areas by 50% on account of extreme water shortages arising from excessive temperatures, drought, local weather change and ongoing water extraction by neighboring nations from the Tigris and Euphrates rivers – all elements which have closely strained wheat manufacturing. Credit score: AP Photograph/Hadi Mizban
  • Severe water shortages strain wheat harvest in Iraq
    A tractor transfers the harvested wheat grain onto a trailer in Yousifiyah, Iraq Tuesday, Could. 24, 2022. At a time when worldwide costs for wheat have soared on account of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Iraqi farmers say they’re paying the worth for a authorities resolution to chop irrigation for agricultural areas by 50% on account of extreme water shortages arising from excessive temperatures, drought, local weather change and ongoing water extraction by neighboring nations from the Tigris and Euphrates rivers – all elements which have closely strained wheat manufacturing. Credit score: AP Photograph/Hadi Mizban
  • Severe water shortages strain wheat harvest in Iraq
    A mix harvester on the center of a wheat subject harvesting crops in Yousifiyah, Iraq Tuesday, Could. 24, 2022. At a time when worldwide costs for wheat have soared on account of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Iraqi farmers say they’re paying the worth for a authorities resolution to chop irrigation for agricultural areas by 50% on account of extreme water shortages arising from excessive temperatures, drought, local weather change and ongoing water extraction by neighboring nations from the Tigris and Euphrates rivers – all elements which have closely strained wheat manufacturing. Credit score: AP Photograph/Hadi Mizban
  • Severe water shortages strain wheat harvest in Iraq
    Farmer Salah Chelab standing in his subject in Yousifiyah, Iraq Tuesday, Could. 24, 2022. At a time when worldwide costs for wheat have soared on account of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Iraqi farmers say they’re paying the worth for a authorities resolution to chop irrigation for agricultural areas by 50% on account of extreme water shortages arising from excessive temperatures, drought, local weather change and ongoing water extraction by neighboring nations from the Tigris and Euphrates rivers – all elements which have closely strained wheat manufacturing. Credit score: AP Photograph/Hadi Mizban
  • Severe water shortages strain wheat harvest in Iraq
    Considerably decrease water ranges are seen on the Tigris River, in Baghdad, Iraq, Saturday, Could 28, 2022. At a time when worldwide costs for wheat have soared on account of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Iraqi farmers say they’re paying the worth for a authorities resolution to chop irrigation for agricultural areas by 50% on account of extreme water shortages arising from excessive temperatures, drought, local weather change and ongoing water extraction by neighboring nations from the Tigris and Euphrates rivers – all elements which have closely strained wheat manufacturing. Credit score: AP Photograph/Hadi Mizban

Again in Chelab’s farm, the is able to be transported to the silo.

“It is true we have to develop ourselves,” he mentioned. “However the change must be gradual, not instant.”


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