Tag Archive | "dates"

17k Tons of Iraqi Dates Exported

By John Lee.

Aswat al-Iraq reports that an estimated 17.000 tons of dates were exported last month to Asian countries, and the exports are still continuing.

Before the Iran-Iraq war, about 500,000 tons of dates are typically exported annually, but damage to the date plantations resulted decreased this  figure.

(Source: Aswat Al Iraq)

(Dates image via Shutterstock)

Posted in AgricultureComments (1)

Agriculture Ministry Allocates $285m for Dates

AKnews reports that the Iraqi Ministry of Agriculture has announced the allocation of $285 million [350 billion Iraqi dinars] for the rehabilitation of the country’s palm groves.

Ministry spokesman Karim al-Tamimi told the agency that $177.3m of the allocation will fund an investment plan put together by the General Authority of Palms, $76.3m will be used for private investment plans through the ministry and the remaining $31.4m will fund loans to palm grove owners.

The Iraqi government launched a comprehensive initiative to improve the agricultural situation in the country in July 2007, setting a ten year deadline for Iraq to reach the stage of self-sufficiency in strategic crops.

The initiative includes, among other things, supporting farmers with seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, land reclamation, and ensuring the purchase of strategic crops at market prices.

Iraq today has 11 million date palms and the Ministry aims to raise that to 30 million over the next ten years.

The renewal of date exportation from Iraq is part of the government’s plan to develop alternative sources of revenue in an economy that has an almost 95% dependency on oil revenues.

In the 1970s, Iraq’s 34 million date palms accounted for 30% of the world total. Official figures indicate that annual exports from the Basra province alone reached more than 130,000 tons.

Iraq now ranks only 7th among world date producers, according to Kamil Mikhlif al-Dulaimi, head of the Agriculture Ministry’s date palm board.

The region, once home to almost 13 million palm trees, acclaimed to be among the finest in the world, suffered greatly during the Iraqi-Iranian war which began in 1980 when the Saddam regime ordered the ‘beheading’ or bulldozing of many of the palms as part of a campaign to enhance security in the region.

In more recent years, the outbreak of the 2003 war to bring down the Saddam regime, heralded further devastation to the agricultural areas of Faw and Abu Khusaib and Shatt al-Arab in the Basrah province.

Many orchards were seriously damaged as hundreds of families were displaced from the Ahwar marshes to the palm groves. At the same time, benefiting from the chaos in the region, gangs were seizing farmland by force and reselling it to developers.

(Source: AKnews, Reuters)

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Help MSMEs Rise to the Eco-Challenge

By T. Keyzom Ngodup, co-founder and Executive Director at Ideas sYnergy, an Iraq based private sector development consulting company.

I was pleasantly ‘perplexed’ to learn that Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, approved (on February 7, 2011) an agricultural project for developing biofuel from rotting dates. The ‘dates-to-biofuel’ project implemented by an unnamed company based in UAE, is seen as a way to encourage growth in Iraq’s crumbling farm sector, which has suffered from decades of sanctions, isolation and war, further confounded by severe droughts and dust storms, attributed mainly to climate change. Ironically, the farming sector is Iraq’s leading employer but contributes less than 3% to state revenues and gets little investments from the Government. According to United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Iraq is among the hardest-hit countries (reference to climate change).

There is nothing new in this analysis; in fact it has been repeatedly appearing as an introduction to Iraq. Instead, I want to focus on how we can convert the challenges of climate change and agriculture into opportunities to develop Iraq’s clean energy market, and the important role of MSMEs – micro-, small- an medium-sized enterprises – in facilitating local and indigenous insights to develop world-class solutions that support access to clean, modern energy services. ‘Clean energy’ refers to products and services that produce energy from renewable resources and emit fewer greenhouse gas emissions than does energy from conventional fuel sources. The lack of a reliable supply of power from the electricity grid and the availability of free and inexpensive fuels, such as wood and kerosene, are key influences on this market. Imagine a samoan (traditional Iraqi bread) shop at every street corner or one of the 1.2 million poor woman leaning over her mud-oven: they represent a huge segment of the clean energy market for MSMEs.

There are two areas of the clean energy market that are high-potential and represent high-growth for MSMEs: clean energy electricity systems and clean energy cooking and light products. Iraq needs MSMEs enabling access to solar lanterns, solar home systems, energy-efficient cookstoves, and electricity generated from decentralized sources, including small hydro power plants and biomass gasifier systems. Working either as ‘developers’ of new products (may not be necessary to re-invent the wheel if ‘right’ product is already present in the global market) or as ‘enablers’, Iraqi MSMEs can, for example, help install solar panels and provide Iraq’s rural population with access to clean electricity.

The Government of Iraq, donors and stakeholders have an important role to play here, to support MSMEs in meeting local energy demand, and contribute to a cleaner Iraq. They can operate focused lending schemes for promoting investment in clean production and energy efficient technologies and production processes, through lines of credit from donors/international development financiers such as OPIC and IFC. In addition, Iraqi MSMEs suffer from a dearth of knowledge on emerging best practices and technologies in this space: the government and donors can support a nation-wide ‘clean energy and MSME conference’, with a focus on partnership models that MSMEs can undertake to develop local capabilities and their impact.

At Ideas sYnergy, we believe that the first necessary step is to understand the energy-related consumption and expenditure habits of Iraq’s poor, un-banked, and ‘under-energy served’ population segments, as well as GoI’s (future?) policies and initiatives in how they interact and facilitate the clean energy industry in the country. Reading through, you may understand why I am ‘perplexed’ with Iraq’s prime-minister: did the (premature?) approval of dates-to-biofuel programme implemented by non-Iraqis set-up Iraqis at an unfair disadvantage? That, and in general the economic decisions taken by people in politics, is a question Iraqis should ponder.

T. Keyzom Ngodup is co-founder and Executive Director at Ideas sYnergy, an Iraq based development consulting company committed to economic and social development through market-based solutions that help build and scale innovative businesses for sustainable and inclusive private sector development.

Posted in Agriculture, Keyzom NgodupComments (2)

Iraq Govt Spends $95m on Dates

Iraq’s Agriculture Minister has allocated 112 billion Iraqi Dinars (IQD) [over $95m] to purchase dates from the local growers.

The deputy head of the ministry’s finance and management board told AKnews that the decision is to support and encourage the farmers and boost the agriculture sector.

Each ton of first grade dates will be purchased at 450,000 IQD [nearly $400]. One ton of the second and third grades are to be purchased at nearly $300 and $180, respectively.

The purchased crops will be sold to the trading companies with $85 discount.

The Iraqi government is trying to boost the Iraqi agricultural infrastructure through various measures, including giving loans to the farmers, constructing and improving irrigation channels, and purchasing their crops.

According to unofficial figures, more than 80% of the world’s date supply is grown in Iraq. Over 600 varieties of dates are grown in the country.

(Source: AKnews)

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Iraq Signs Order for Eurocopters

Eurocopter has just signed an agreement to supply seven AS350 B3 Ecureuil helicopters to the Iraqi Ministry of Agriculture.

The choppers will be used for spraying date palm trees, which provide a major source of agricultural revenue for the country.

Deliveries of these single-engine rotary-wing aircraft will begin in the first quarter of 2011, with Eurocopter providing training sessions for Iraqi personnel at its facility in South Africa.

The AS350 B3 is perfectly suited to the hot, high-altitude operations in Iraq, and will be fully equipped to perform the aerial spraying of date palm tree fields that occurs several times each year.

“This is an extremely important contract for Eurocopter, as the AS350 B3 fleet will contribute to the development of a stable economy in Iraq,” said Olivier Lambert, Eurocopter’s Vice President Sales and Customers Relation. “We are fully committed to delivering on our commitments for this order, and Eurocopter is ready to respond to other helicopter mission requirements in the country.”

(Sources: AME Info, Euronews)

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Dates in Basra

An official in the Iraqi Ports Department reported on Wednesday that a ship carrying Iraqi dates is en-route for one of the Gulf States, the first shipment of this once world-famous Iraqi product to leave the country since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.

AKnews reports that the director of the Department’s media office, Ammar al-Safi, said that this 1,500 ton shipment is only the first; further cargos of different varieties of dates are expected to be exported through the country’s ports in the near future.

The renewal of date exportation from Iraq is part of the government’s plan to develop alternative sources of revenue in an economy that has an almost 95% dependency on oil revenues.

In the 1970s, Iraq’s 34 million date palms accounted for 30% of total world production. Annual exports from the Basra province alone reached more than 130,000 tons.

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