Fighting Robs Farmers of Harvest

By Omar al-Jaffal for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Approximately 60% of the residents of the Salahuddin province, 175 kilometers (109 miles) north of Baghdad, work in farming. Salahuddin was ranked the top producing province in agriculture in 2012, and earned about $400 million from agricultural products.

However, the ongoing military operations in the province have cost the province its plans to cultivate 900,000 acres of wheat and barley this year.

Hamadi Jiyyad is one farmer who had hoped to see an agricultural boom in 2014 and prepared his land in the Tikrit district for wheat cultivation. However, the fighting near his fields forced him and his family to flee to Baghdad, and he postponed the winter planting until next year.

After the Islamic State (IS) threatened to kill Jiyyad if he did not pay it a sum of money, he left and rented a house in Baghdad. He now sits in front of the TV screen following the news and hoping that the operations will expel IS from his province.

Jiyyad told Al-Monitor, "The land was not affected, just the crops. I can farm the land in the future, but this year will be a big loss. I don't know if the state will compensate us or give us loans."

Prior to the start of the military operations, Salahuddin's farmers had suffered from the poor quality fertilizers provided by the Iraqi Ministry of Agriculture. While this issue drove migration from rural to urban areas, many residents remained and continued to farm, hoping that the ministry would import better insecticides and fertilizers.

IS controls several cities in various Iraqi provinces and is engaged in heavy fighting with the army over territory, especially in the provinces of Ninevah, Salahuddin and Anbar. This fighting has significantly affected the economy of the region, particularly the agricultural sector.

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