The Kurdistan region imports almost all of its food.
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region— More than 90 percent of food consumed in the Kurdistan region is imported, according to data compiled by the region’s ministry of agriculture.
“The population has grown and our production has not,” said Anwar Omar, general manager at the ministry.
The need for food products will be even higher in 2020 when the population climbs to 6 million people from its current 5.4 million, Omar added.
“On average, most countries allocate 10 percent of their annual budgets for development of agricultural goods, but we have less than 2 percent in Kurdistan which indeed is catastrophic,” Omar said
The KRG offers subsidies to farmers estimated at $250 million a year. The government invested $677 million between 2006-2013 and is projected to invest an estimated $1.2 billion by 2020.
Omar said the economic crisis in the country has prevented his ministry from addressing the major issues of the region’s agricultural infrastructure.
The region has a surplus in wheat, potato, eggs and onions, which can also be exported to other areas in Iraq, according to ministry data. Its production of chicken, cucumber and tomatoes can also largely supply the domestic market.
Ministry data shows agriculture contributes to 10 percent of the total GDP in the region, with 9 percent of the population relying on farming for its livelihood.
“According to our own research, with 3.3 trillion dinars ($ 2.7 billion) over a 5-year period, Kurdistan can reach self-sufficiency in most agricultural areas,” said Omar, who recently presented his ministry’s plan to the government.