Iraq Aims to Support Local Farmers Through New Proposal
|April 14, 2013||Filled under Iraq Daily News|
The Iraqi government this week approved a proposal to raise the purchase prices of wheat, barley and yellow corn, in a bid to support the local farmers who sell this produce to the government, and to boost local agricultural output.
The cabinet approved the proposal at its regular meeting April 9th, said Deputy Agriculture Minister Mahdi al-Qaisi.
“The purchase prices this year will go up by 10% over last year’s prices,” he said, adding, “The government used to buy top grade wheat at 720,000 dinars ($619) per tonne, barley at 520,000 dinars ($447) per tonne and yellow corn at 320,000 dinars ($275) per tonne.”
The decision came as “part of the government’s policy towards farmers, to encourage them to hold on to their land and plant strategic crops, particularly wheat, which is the main item in people’s food baskets”, he said.
It can help grow local food production and expand areas of planted land, which would help Iraq achieve self-sufficiency and cut down the need to import items, al-Qaisi said.
“The purchase prices of the three crops are higher than import prices, but this does not constitute a loss if viewed from a forward-looking perspective,” he said. “The government is trying, out of a strategic vision, to boost local production and revitalise the state of agriculture, which cannot be accomplished without supporting the farmer.”
Also, there is an immediate benefit to buying these crops locally, as crops are bought in their raw state, meaning it is possible to benefit from harvest leftovers by making animal fodder, including hay, he said.
Al-Qaisi said his ministry “is working, as part of its strategic plan, on improving the level and quality of the local production of these crops” by way of “two important projects”.
The first project supplies farmers with sprinkler irrigation systems at subsidised prices, while the second aims to boost scientific research to develop new types and classes of seeds characterised by high productivity and quality, he said.
“We also have other projects such as the provision of easy-term loans” and “a project to enhance agricultural counselling, which includes building experimental agricultural farms to help farmers improve their skills”, he said.
Meanwhile, Faisal Rashid Nasser, advisor at the ministry, praised the approval of the latest proposal.
“It is part of government plans to help farmers meet some of the cost of agricultural production, and enable them to make more money, which would encourage them to make further progress and put in more effort to build up the country’s agricultural sector,” he said.
Itab al-Douri, a member of the parliamentary agriculture committee, also lauded the effort, saying, “We at the committee give our blessings to this latest government step.”
“Iraqi farmers are in need of both moral and material support because they have endured a lot of hardship in the past few years,” he said, adding that many farmers were forced to abandon their land and take up new professions due to such hardship.
Obaid al-Shammary, a farmer, said he and his fellows are “grateful to the government and for its decision to raise the prices of our crops”.
“This increase will enable us to secure what we need to plant on our land and reap a good profit,” he added.
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