What was the situation in Modern Iraq?
During the middle of the last century, Iraq’s agricultural production was not significant but vital, especially before the development of the oil industry; at that time, agriculture contributed to around 8% of Iraq’s GDP. During the past 50 years, Iraq successive governments mainly focused on having control over products and prices. Its main objective was to achieve self-sufficiency with food, which was the main reason behind introducing land reclamation and water use management policies to overcome salinization.
The wars Iraq witnessed in 1991 and 2017, among other adverse effects, have highly affected the planned agriculture policies; the attacks of ISIS from 2014-2017 made the situation even worst. Subsequently, these adverse effects have highly impacted the country’s employment level as agriculture used 25% of employment in the country.
Iraq’s main types of productions
Considering the (i) expected growth and demand; (ii) the expected level of support from local and international entities; (iii) environmental conditions; and (iv) contribution to food sufficiency, wheat, tomato, date and grape are the main products the government/ investors should consider when studying the Iraqi agriculture market.
The date is the dominating crop in Iraq; before the 1991 war, Iraq covered three of four quarters of the world’s need and had 600+ types of dates. This productivity has dropped in the past years to 7.2% due to the increase in both human and animals and the wars and conflicts the area has witnessed during the past decades.
Dates are essential product; they can be processed to make syrup, sugar, ethanol, jam, animal food, and many other food productions; with this in mind, only 4% of cultivated lands in Iraq is utilized for date cultivation.
The type of dates Iraq is producing enjoys a competitive advantage worldwide; however, it still requests efforts to achieve the quality cultivars, measures in management policies, applying international standards for achieving higher quality and more. Above all, investors are needed to increase cultivated areas of palms and use advanced technology utilizing the privileges both the local and international provided. Link
How to Improve the Effectiveness of the Agricultural sector in Iraq?
To increase the productivity of the agriculture sector and improve the quality of production, decision-makers should reconsider the importance of agriculture as a primary source of income and pay extra efforts in accelerating the improvement process acknowledging the oil sector’s future and the instability of oil prices which make the necessity to add more income sources to the country, essential.
Understanding the challenges is a critical factor for providing adequate solutions. We can highlight the main challenges facing the Iraqi farmers in planting palm trees by saying that he faces difficulties with finance, technology and skills. The farmers are also in need of government support in developing a regulatory framework by which it will ensure market stability, build national capacity, apply best practices, and provide educational support.
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