Monday, August 31, 2009

The empty breadbasket: fill it from the supermarket

"Iraq, once known as the “breadbasket of the Middle East” for the vast tracts of fertile land between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, is expected to import 80 per cent of its wheat this year at a cost of more than US$1.4 billion (Dh5.14bn).

Devastated by decades of wars, sanctions and neglect, Iraq’s once abundant farms, pastures and date palm groves produce just a fraction of the needs of the country’s more than 28 million people. Billions of dollars are spent each year on tomatoes, milk and other products from the neighbouring countries of Iran, Turkey and Syria.

But as the country’s security situation begins to stabilise, government officials and private investors are beginning to focus on rebuilding Iraq into a major agricultural producer.

At the forefront of these efforts is the regional government of Iraqi Kurdistan in the north of the country. Officials there announced an ambitious plan in January to spend $10.5bn to expand farming during the next five years."

1 comment:

Steve Bloom said...

I can only imagine that maintaining downstream flows in the Tigris won't be much of a priority.