Extremists Go Against The Grain: Security Crisis Sees Farmers’ Harvests Halved in Northern Iraq
As harvest time approaches for farmers in northern Iraq, the security crisis caused by the extremist group known as the Islamic State is having an impact on crops and agricultural business.
Usually at this time of the year Iraq’s Ministry of Commerce begins to buy wheat and barley crops from local farmers, storing the crops in grain silos from June 1 onwards, until the end of July.
However this year that is not happening as it usually does in northern Iraq, where harvests have decreased by almost half in some areas because thousands of acres of arable land have been left fallow.
For example, grain farmers in the south western part of Kirkuk province, where the extremists have made a big impact and where there has been ongoing fighting, have been dealing with the fact that their lands are near, or on the frontline, of fighting between the Islamic State, or IS, group and the Iraqi Kurdish military.
“In Kirkuk province there are an estimated 740,000 acres of arable land,” Mahdi Mubarak, the director of Kirkuk’s Department of Agriculture, told NIQASH.
“But farmers have only been able to plant about 418,000 of those this year. The IS group has controlled a lot of that uncultivated land and other parts of farmland became battlefields. All in all, we expect wheat and barley production to decrease significantly this year, by around 200,000 tonnes compared to last year. It’s a big loss for Kirkuk,” he concluded.