Sandstorms, Corruption Make Ninawa Farmers Abandon Land And Home

Ninawa province has plenty of desertification to call its own. The province has very high temperatures, strong winds and high evaporation and transpiration rates. Climate change has also had an effect and as temperatures have risen, the districts of Hadar and Biaaj have been particularly badly affected.

Figures released by Ninawa statisticians indicate a decrease in the production of wheat and barley in the area between 2001 and 2010. Figures for the past years were not available but as Muhanna al-Tak, head of the local Department of Agriculture, said, “it’s no secret that wheat and barley production has fallen”. .

Despite this it seems that Ninawa’s local Ministry of Water Resources has refused to undertake a suggested project for improving local water supplies – even though the project is estimated to cost around IQD40 billion (US$26 million).

“Soil and water tests done in our laboratories indicate that the land here is suitable for a large number of crops, especially grains,” Sabbar Abdullah Salih, the head of the Natural Resources Research Centre at the University of Tikrit, said.

Salih accused Ninawa authorities of not being serious about the problem of desertification in the area.

On Oct. 10, the Iraqi parliament held a conference titled The Reality of Agriculture in Ninawa and Salahaddin. There Ninawa’s governor, Atheel al-Nujaifi, warned that the reasons why agriculture is suffering in Ninawa included “lack of subsidized help and administrative problems as well as environmental issues”.

Al-Nujaifi stressed the need for a proposed project to drill 400 more artisan wells in areas hit by desertification, the creation of green belts and the rehabilitation of abandoned villages. The governor also felt that all parties needed to cooperate to come up with a strategic plan for agriculture in the province.

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