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Growing potential in Iraq’s agricultural sector

Iraq has lost 40 percent of its agricultural produce as a result of the conflicts. There are 12 million Iraqis; almost a third of the country’s population who reside in rural areas and depend on agriculture for their livelihoods, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

The lack of rainfall this season has further damaged the agricultural sector with the Iraqi Ministry of Agriculture predicting a loss of up to 30 percent of the wheat and barley crops due to drought, said the report. Nonetheless, today there are signs that Iraq’s agriculture is coming back, as it begins to employ more people.

The Iraqi agricultural sector has enormous potential. Arable land in Iraq is not restricted to the basins of the Euphrates and the Tigris rivers but extends to most of Badiyat al-Jazira, in north-eastern Iraq, and the western desert.

Iraq’s Import of food items, according to the latest official statistics, is equivalent to one quarter of the value of the import bill, i.e. $20 billion, 30% of the annual budget. Last year, Iraq imported food worth $6 billion a month to secure the ration card system. A report issued by the International Monetary Fund predicted that the rate of trade expenditures of Iraq will grow from 85.5 trillion dinars ($71 billion) in 2014, to reach 102.8 trillion Iraqi dinars ($85 billion) in 2018.

The government recently announced 88 projects in the agriculture sector that seek investments

AGRICULTURAL PROJECTS

Countrywide investment Projects: (86 Sub-Projects) in agriculture in Nineveh, Saladin, Anbar, Wasit, Holy Najaf, Dewaniya, and Thi Qar provinces for strategic crops. Total area is around 1.5 million donum for local need and the rest is for export.

LIVESTOCK
  • Cows breeding project in Sulaimaniyah
  • Cows breeding project in Duhok

The Number and Area of Investment Opportunities
in Iraqi Provinces for 2017-2018

PROVINCE
Ninawa
Salah al-Deen
Anbar
Wasit
Holy Najaf
Dewaniya
Thi Qar
Total
Number of Opportunities
3
7
5
36
1
24
10
86
Total Area for Investment (dunam)
8,300
23,255
245,415
395,148
700,00
91,188
29,908
1,493,214
  • The Iraqi government announced that the Saudi-Iraqi Coordination Council is examining an agricultural investment project covering 1 million hectares in Anbar province in western Iraq. According to the Iraqi Planning Minister, the council was studying technical aspects of the project.
  • Official studies indicate that the countryside in western Iraq has the potential of becoming a world’s breadbasket because of its rich farmland and enormous water resources. The area includes Lake Habbaniyah, Lake Razaza and Lake Sawa in addition to the strategic water reservoir of Haditha Dam in Anbar.
  • Similar potential exists in the area known as Badiyat al-Jazira, covering part of Anbar province and the provinces of Saladin and Nineveh, containing Lake Tharthar; a major water reservoir.
  • The agricultural sector in Iraq is expected to attract investments from other Gulf countries. Experts point out that the Gulf countries are interested in developing food security and Iraq can satisfy that strategic need.
  • According to Iraq’s Minister of Industry, Trade and Supply, Iraq has officially exempted some 540 Jordanian commodities supplied to the Iraqi market from customs duties.

Iraq’s top imports of food products in 2017

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