In 2016, 1,512,000 tons of wheat were produced in the Kurdistan Region. Farmer sold seventy percent of their wheat to the government. Of this amount, the Iraqi government received 442,705 tons. Photo: Rudaw
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – As the wheat planting season has started, farmers are optimistic that the rainy weather will mean good crops, but agriculture officials expect less land will be cultivated because Baghdad continues to delay payments for Kurdish farmers.
Farmer Star Ramazan, is hopeful while planting his land with wheat, saying he expects a bumper harvest after good weather this autumn.
“We are planting types of seeds that are productive in the sense that a single one could bear 20 or 30 times more,” he said. “The quality of this seed is very good. It is beneficial for us and our country.”
As he works, Ramazan sings a popular song by iconic Kurdish singer Hassan Zirak – a favourite among farmers as Zirak sings praise for those who work the land.
Ramazan said that agriculture was “very important to boost our country’s economy.”
“We see this year a lot of people are plowing farm lands that had lain fallow.”
Another farmer agrees that farm produce is one of the key aspects to rebuilding the Kurdistan Region’s economy, chief among them the wheat crop that meets domestic needs and makes the Region self-reliant.
Sirwan Abdulwahab has planted all his fields with wheat.
“We increase planting and cultivating our lands year after year in order for our country not to need other countries. We rely on ourselves,” he said.
Sulaimani’s Agriculture Department, however, expects a drop in farming this year. Though they do not believe this will impact domestic needs.
“I suggest it will decrease by 15 to 20 thousand acres,” said Shalaw Jamal, head of the Sulaimani Agriculture Department. “This is because the Iraqi government has not yet paid compensation to the farmers for their sold crops.”
Baghdad “has disappointed the farmers year after year,” he noted.
According to the KRG Agriculture Ministry, the Kurdistan Region has an estimated 1.5 million acres of land suitable for farming.
In 2016, 1,512,000 tons of wheat were produced in the Kurdistan Region. Farmers sold seventy percent of their wheat to the government. Of this amount, the Iraqi government received 442,705 tons.