The Iraqi Agriculture Ministry has reportedly ‘demanded’ that the ministries of planning and finance increase the Palm General Authority’s allocations from 4bn to 8bn IQD ($3.4m to $6.8m) to ensure the success of the annual plan for the development of palm groves.
According to AKnews, Kamel Mukhlab, the director general of the authority, said they now have six aircraft which are used to treat diseases affecting the palms, as well as an excellent staff of 1,200 employee.
“Keeping the allocations the same is disastrous because we will have to dismiss most of the workers who work on daily wages”, said Mukhlab.
The Ministry of Agriculture began a widespread campaign to treat the palm groves near the areas that witnessed war and armed operations in the past.
The ministry announced the allocation of 2,500 donums [625 hectares] to plant palm groves for over 560 kinds of dates.
Iraq today has 11 million date palms and the ministry plans to increase to 30 million trees over the next ten years.
In the 1970s, Iraq’s 34 million date palms accounted for 30 percent of the total number found in the world. Official figures indicate that annual exports from Basra province alone reached more than 130,000 tons.