Iraq is looking for foreign investment in its agriculture sector to help the country become self-sufficient in grain production by 2014, according to a report from Bloomberg.
“We are offering incentives for farmers to speed up the process and we welcome foreign investors,” Agriculture Minister Ezzeddin al-Dawla [Izzuldin al-Doula] told reporters in Baghdad.
Iraq wants to reduce its dependence on oil revenue, while agriculture has the potential to employ half the country’s jobless, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said at the conference.
Iraq supplies about half of its grain needs currently, the prime minister said. “Within a limited period and at a small cost, Iraq’s agriculture has made significant progress,” he said, adding that the government will offer loans for projects.
The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) recently reported that Iraq will import 4.91 million metric tons of grain in the year through June, compared to a national grain production 4 million tons.
The Grain Board of Iraq signed 12 contracts in February to buy 850,000 tons of wheat from the U.S. and Australia, and has tendered for another 100,000 tons of any origin with a bidding deadline of March 26.
Iraq plans to build up stockpiles of wheat in the next six months, while wheat produced locally will come to market at the end of April, Jabbar said, without estimating output figures.