Many people have started to turn to farming as a source of income after a financial crisis hit the region since 2014. File photo: Rudaw/Farzn Hassan
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region—The Iraqi government has decided to buy more than 50 percent of this year’s wheat harvest from Kurdish farmers, local officials say, while it still has to pay for wheat it purchased three years ago.
Some farmers seem happy with this decision but others like Ismail Nasir are skeptical and believe they live in total uncertainty as to whether or not the government will buy their harvest.
“It should be stated at the beginning of the year that they will not buy wheat, or they don’t need farmers, instead of saying it at the harvesting time.” Nasir said.
Kurdish farmers produced around 844,000 tons of wheat last year and Iraq is set to buy half of it.
The amount collected is divided on farmers in Erbil, Dohuk, Sulaimani and Halabja as 148,000 tons, 175,000, 107,000, 8,000 respectively.
Kawa Ali, deputy governor of Halabja told Rudaw: “Bagdad has been unfair in this distribution towards Kurdistan Region, Kurdistan Region itself has been unfair towards Sulaimani, and Sulaimani has been unjust towards Halabja.”
The Kurdistan parliament upgraded the status of Halabja to a governorate in February 2015. It used to be part of the Sulaimani administration. The process of the devolution however largely remains to be implemented as for many matters the decisions are still with the local government in Sulaimani.
The Kurdish Ministry of Agriculture has asked the Kurdistan Region Council of Ministers to allocate a special budget to buy up the remaining wheat at the silos.
Abdulsattar Majid, Minister of Agriculture disagreed that Iraq has been fair to Kurdish farmers, saying Baghdad frequently changes its measures and rules.
Iraq needs 4.5 million tons of wheat annually to provide for flour and other wheat-related products of its people. It buys some of this wheat from its farmers with subsidized pricing, and imports the rest from abroad.