Iraqi Farmers "in Dire Need of Support"

Wheat seeds, fertilizer and animal feed are starting to roll out to nearly 28,000 farming families in Iraq whose livelihoods have been left in tatters as a result of hostilities -- part of an effort from the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) aimed at reinforcing food production and helping people recover.

But the Organization is warning that an additional $38.5 million in support is urgently needed to prevent the country's agricultural sector from collapsing and an already-worrisome food security situation from further degenerating.

Thousands of Iraqi farmers have been forced to flee their lands or have had their assets destroyed or seized. Others have seen markets for their crops disappear, or have sold off livestock, supplies and equipment to make ends meet.

As a result of these disruptions, June's harvest was severely compromised, reducing food availability across the country – currently an estimated 2.8 million people in Iraq are in need of food assistance. This situation could worsen as families continue to lose productive assets and income opportunities, or find themselves forced to unload livestock for quick cash.

“If not addressed in time, this will translate into longer-term reliance on food aid and other forms of aid," said Abdessalam Ould Ahmed, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for the Near East and North Africa. “Millions of vulnerable Iraqis are in dire need of help to restore their self-sufficiency and build resilience,” he added.

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