Mosul and its surrounds used to export thousands of tons of grain outside of the province in the past. But currently grains are being brought into Mosul, after being harvested in other areas under the control of the IS group such as Hawija in neighbouring Kirkuk province and Shirqat in Salahaddin province.
Outside of Mosul local merchants buy the crops from the farmers, then transport them to Mosul where they sell them to the IS group, who then store the grain in their own silos, or sell it on to other local merchants.
This is part of a deliberate strategy by the IS group. On May 15, the extremists issued instructions in Mosul for farmers and traders, saying that no grain could be exported outside the city until Mosul had “become self sufficient”. The reasoning behind this is clear to locals.
If the million-plus inhabitants of the city, who eat bread every day, become hungry they will be increasingly hard to control. That's why the IS group is working on the issue of food security – it's for their own ends, they say.
*Names have been changed to protect interviewees.
(Grain image via Shutterstock)