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Severe aqua shortages strain wheat harvest inside Iraq

Severe aqua shortages strain wheat harvest inside Iraq

BAGHDAD (AP) — Salah Chelab crushed a husk of wheat plucked from his sprawling farmland south of Baghdad with every one other accompanied by inspected its seeds inside the prize of one hand. They were some grams lighter than he hoped.

"It's since of the aqua shortages," he said, the farm machine roaring behind him, cutting with every one other accompanied by gathering his year's wheat harvest.

Chelab had planted most of his 10 acres (4 hectares) of land, nevertheless he was only intelligent to irrigate a quarter of it following the Agriculture Ministry introduced strict aqua quotas throughout the growing season, he said. The manufacture he was growing on the relax of it, he fears, "will die lacking water."

At a hour dated when worldwide prices for wheat have soared due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Iraqi farmers speak they are paying the cost for a management decision to gash irrigation for agricultural areas by 50%.

The management took the step inside the face of severe aqua shortages arising from high temperatures with every one other accompanied by drought — believed to exist fueled by climate alter — with every one other accompanied by ongoing aqua extraction by neighboring countries from the Tigris with every one other accompanied by Euphrates rivers. All those factors have laboriously strained wheat production.

Wrestling accompanied by the aqua shortage, Iraq's management has been unable to gear other long-neglected issues.

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Desertification has been blamed while a element behind this year's relentless spate of sandstorms. At least 10 have hit the country inside the past few months, covering cities accompanied by a thick cover of orange dust, grounding flights with every one other accompanied by sending thousands to hospitals.

"We need aqua to find an answer to the difficulty of desertification, nevertheless we too need aqua to firm our food supplies," said Essa Fayadh, a older official at the Environment Ministry. "We don't have sufficient for both."

Iraq relies on the Tigris with every one other accompanied by Euphrates rivers for almost all of its aqua needs. Both run into Iraq from Turkey with every one other accompanied by Iran. Those countries have constructed dams that have either blocked or diverted water, creating greatest shortages inside Iraq.

Water Resources Minister Mahdi Rasheed told The Associated Press that watercourse levels were down 60% compared to last year.

For Chelab, less aqua has meant a smaller cereal dimensions with every one other accompanied by foot crop yields.

In 2021, Chelab produced 30,000 tons of wheat, the year earlier to that 32,000, receipts from Trade Ministry silos show. This year, he expects no indeed additional than 10,000.

His crops are both rain-fed with every one other accompanied by irrigated via a strait from the Euphrates. Due to low precipitation levels, he has had to be contingent on on the watercourse aqua throughout the growing season, he said.

Government officials speak alter is necessary.

The contemporaneous system has been inefficient with every one other accompanied by unsustainable for decades. Water scarcity is leaving them no indeed selection nevertheless to push to modernize antiquated with every one other accompanied by wasteful agriculture techniques.

"We have a planned scheme to face drought considering the lack of rain, worldwide warming, with every one other accompanied by the lack of irrigation coming from neighboring countries while we did not obtain our portion of aqua entitlements," said Hamid al-Naif, spokesperson at the Agriculture Ministry.

The management dividing took measures to devise new types of drought-resistant wheat with every one other accompanied by introduce methods to grow crop yields.

"We are still dealing accompanied by irrigation systems of the 1950s. It has nothing to do accompanied by the farmers," he said. "The condition must build it efficient, we must strength the farmer to receive it."

Iraqi farmers have historically been laboriously dependent on the condition inside the manufacture of food, a reliance that policymakers with every one other accompanied by experts said drains management funds.

The Agriculture Ministry supports farmers by providing each item from harvesting tools, seeds, fertilizers with every one other accompanied by pesticides at a subsidized percentage or for free. Water diverted from rivers for irrigation is specified at no indeed cost. The Trade Ministry at that hour dated stores or buys manufacture from farmers with every one other accompanied by distributes it to markets.

Wheat is a answer planned crop, accounting for 70% of total cereal manufacture inside the country.

Planting starts inside October with every one other accompanied by harvest typically begins inside April with every one other accompanied by extends to June inside some areas. Last year, the Agriculture Ministry slashed subsidies for fertilizers, seeds with every one other accompanied by pesticides, a go that has angered farmers.

Local request for the staple is in the centre of 5-6 million tons a year. But local manufacture is shrinking accompanied by every one passing year. In 2021, Iraq produced 4.2 million tons of wheat, according to the Agriculture Ministry. In 2020, it was 6.2 million tons.

"Today we strength obtain 2.5 million tons at best," said al-Naif. That would need Iraq to operate up imports.

Most of the wheat harvest is normally sold to the Trade Ministry. In a sign of the low harvest, so a lengthy way there are currently only 373,000 tons of wheat available inside Trade Ministry storehouses, al-Naif said.

To meet demands amid the recent worldwide crisis inside the cereal market, the management not long ago changed a policy to permit all Iraqi farmers to sell their manufacture to the Trade Ministry silos. Previously, this was restricted to farmers who operated within the management plan.

Back inside Chelab's farm, the wheat is prepared to exist transported to the silo.

"It's accurate we need to grow ourselves," he said. "But the alter should exist gradual, not immediate."

Severe aqua shortages strain wheat harvest inside Iraq

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