Iraq’s Ministry of Trade has announced that it has closed a deal to import 125,000 tons of rice from Thailand at a cost of $65 million in order to meet the demands of the government’s food-subsidizing ration card system.
The General Manager of the Ministry’s Grain Company, Muthanna Jabbar, told AKnews that deals have been signed with two companies, the Swiss firm Omirocco and Trevor of Singapore, to supply the imported grain.
“The shipments will arrive respectively within 60 days at Basra port and the imported rice is from the best brands in the world,” he said.
The four staple items covered by the ration card system are flour, sugar, rice and cooking oil. The distribution of those items to Iraqi families was delayed last year in many provinces for reasons described by the Trade Ministry as “technical”.
The ration card system accounted for around $2.9 billion in the 2010 federal budget.
A wave of public rallies has spread across the Iraqi provinces with angry protestors taking to the streets demanding better public services, employment opportunities and for the ration card system to become effectively operational.