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Economy News - Baghdad
The Iraqi Ministries of Agriculture and Water Resources approved an agricultural plan for the upcoming winter season, which is considered the first of its kind in the country’s history, by relying mainly on groundwater to secure irrigation water, amid major challenges related to the state’s ability to secure modern irrigation systems that it now sells to farmers at subsidized prices. According to a plan aimed at reducing water consumption and leaving the old irrigation route.
According to recent official data, the agricultural season plan in all cities of Iraq for the winter season 2023/2024 depends on cultivating only 5.5 million dunums, and the area of cultivation depending on surface water (the Tigris and Euphrates rivers) will be 1.5 million dunums, while the area cultivated with groundwater will be About 4 million dunams.
This agricultural plan is the first of its kind in Iraq, in which about 75 percent of well water is relied upon to ensure irrigation of crops.
In the same context, the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Agriculture, Mehdi Sahar, said in a brief interview with Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that his country approved the agriculture plan for this season based on water storage and rain expectations.
He stressed that "the winter plan focused on growing the main winter crops for the Iraqi family, with the aim of meeting the local market's need for them and not importing them from abroad."
This comes in conjunction with the announcement by the Iraqi Ministry of Resources of drilling about 600 wells in various cities of Iraq, out of a plan that aims to dig a thousand wells during the current year, which it said most of them are for the public benefit, in areas experiencing water scarcity.
Al-Khazraji added: “We still need to develop water reservoirs and prepare a national map of groundwater areas. Currently, we only have to drill and extract water, and some areas do not find sufficient water, but these are preliminary treatments that will take us to the planning stage and develop a new map for agricultural water.”
He stressed that the groundwater in Iraq is close to the surface of the earth, so the costs of drilling are not large for the farmer or the state, and we hope that we will move towards expanding the agricultural area through wells away from the rivers.
He explained that tomatoes, cucumbers and potatoes, in addition to other major crops, will be targeted in agriculture primarily to meet the full market need, and farmers will be supported financially and crops will be purchased from them, through delivery centers if they do not sell their crops in the market, revealing that rice crops of all types will be excluded from Agriculture this year due to its consumption of large amounts of water.
in Irrigation, and encouraging investors and farmers to purchase modern irrigation systems (pivotal sprinklers), through interest-free loans and repayment spans over five years.”
The main problem facing Iraqi agriculture remains related to water, as the Minister of Water Resources in Iraq, Aoun Dhiab, revealed earlier that the country’s strategic water reserve had declined by 7 billion cubic meters compared to the summer of last year 2022.
He stated that the sharp decline in the quantities of Iraqi water reserves constitutes a clear threat and portends a real disaster, and therefore agriculture will be very specific, especially for the rice crop in the regions of the Middle Euphrates.
According to a previous United Nations report on water security in the Arab region, 17 countries in the Arab world out of 22 are currently on the water poverty line, including 12 countries that are already suffering below the extreme water poverty line, including Iraq.
Added 09/25/2023 - 8:23 AM
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