By John Lee.

Iraq reportedly wants to allow Russian-origin wheat to be bought in its state tenders to supply the country’s massive food rationing programme.

According to Reuters, the Trade Ministry will send a delegation to Russia before the end of the year to study the suitability of its wheat for Iraq’s needs.

Iraq needs between 4.5 million and five million tonnes of wheat annually, of which about two million tonnes is imported.

(Source: Reuters)

Amar and Coca-Cola Foundation Start Project to Replenish Water in the Iraqi Marshes

The AMAR International Charitable Foundation has begun construction of a domestic-wastewater-purification system in the Mesopotamian Marshes, where all 30 houses in the village of Al Adhaima will be connected to the network.

The project, which is being funded as part of The Coca-Cola Company’s global “Replenish” water initiative, will employ traditional methods, largely using the area’s natural reed beds as a filtration system for the village’s wastewater. The urgent need for the scheme has only been increased by a summer of drought, which has hit water levels and quality badly.

The Mesopotamian Marshes, thought by many to be the location for the Garden of Eden, are a rare wetland at the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. As well as being a unique ecosystem, the area is home to around 300,000 Marsh Arabs, whose own rich culture centres on the Marshes’ natural resources.

Sadly, the area has a long and troubled history of drainage, drought and displacement. In the 1990s Saddam Hussein drained around 90% of the Marshes in an effort to crush the Marsh Arabs. Hundreds of thousands were displaced. After his fall from power in 2003, the waterways were reopened and the Marshes replenished, and the locals began to return.

But the recovery has been only partial. This year reduced river flows, compounded by drought, have led to a drying-up of parts of the Marshes, as well as increased water salinity. Pollution is also a growing problem as population and industry grow but aging infrastructure struggles and decays. The agriculture and livestock that underpin local livelihoods are under severe threat.

Many farmers in the marshes keep water buffalo, but high water salinity is depleting herds.

AMAR’s Replenish Project is seeking to tackle some of these issues in the Hammar Marshes. It will use the existing natural reedbed systems for the final process in the collection and treatment of domestic sewage and wastewater. Once treated, aerated and filtered, the cleaned water will be redirected to the river, where it will flow into and recharge the Marshes. The project is being carefully monitored and evaluated in close co-ordination with the Directorate of the Environment, who has been part of the project team throughout.

AMAR has long been an advocate for the survival of the Marshes and its people. In 2016 it successfully campaigned for the area’s recognition as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, affording it an increased level of protection. In 2012 AMAR ran a Heritage Project in the marshes, funded by the US State Department, which included the publication of a book documenting the history and culture of the region, The Southern Mesopotamian Marshlands: Reclaiming the Heritage of a Civilisation.

The Replenish Project seeks to continue this work. It will improve the water quality of the targeted area of the Hammar Marshes and preserve the unique marshland environment. This, in turn, will support the Marsh Arabs in re-establishing their ability to manage the marshes, and sustain livelihoods there, which has been so disrupted by historical persecution.

The reintroduction of managed reedbeds, which can also be used for farming and harvesting, also provides the local community with raw materials for traditional crafts and construction techniques. As such, this project has the potential to position the local community as a cultural hub and centre for access to the Marshes.

A woman collects reeds for the construction of a mudhif, a traditional reed house.

AMAR will be working closely with The Coca-Cola Foundation throughout the project. Once the pilot scheme is complete, with further funding and support from the Iraqi Ministry of Environment and local Directorates, it hopes to roll out the project as a sustainable model in other marshland communities.

(Source: AMAR)

By John Lee.

Iraq has agreed to buy 90,000 metric tons of rice from the United States.

US Congressman Ralph Abraham, M.D., R-Alto, a member of the House Agriculture Committee, said in a statement:

“Iraq is buying three times more rice than we requested in our letter, so I’m thrilled that this resulted in such a successful sale.  A purchase of this great amount will have an immediate and strong impact on the American rice market, and this is certainly a testament to American rice producers, who grow the best rice in the world.”

Dr. Abraham said he has led several letters to Iraq over the last few years advocating for US rice, adding that the most recent success was in August when Iraq purchased 15,000 metric tons from the United States.

(Source: Congressman Ralph Abraham)

By John Lee.

Turkey has announced that it will increase water supplies to Iraq to compensate for a drop in supply from Iran.

According to Abu Dhabi-based The National, Iran has said it will cut water supplies to Iraq to prioritise projects within Iran.

Turkey depends on water from the Tigris to fill a reservoir behind its new Ilısu dam.

This summer, Iraq’s agriculture ministry banned the growing of water-intensive crops due to shortages.

(Sources: The National, Sabah, Rudaw)

By Shaghayegh Rostampour for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

A mother covers her daughter’s mouth and nose with her headscarf as they rush through the heavy smog that blankets a crowded street. She stops to cough, but then continues to walk while covering her own mouth with her free hand. Maryam and her daughter Mina are not the only ones struggling with the air in this southwestern Iranian city.

For over two months, Ahvaz and its people have been choked by fires engulfing the Hawizeh Marshes that straddle the border with Iraq. Nearly two-thirds of the marshes are located in Iraq, with the rest not far from Ahvaz.

In mid-August, the governor of the town of Hawizeh, west of Ahvaz, said fumes and the smoke from flames originating on the Iraqi side of the marshes have sent over 250 people to the hospital. Things are not looking any better on the Iranian side of the border.

Click here to read the full story.

From AFP. Any opinions expressed are those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Sweet Iraqi dates adorn tables in homes across the country, but the fruit tree and national symbol has come under threat from conflict and crippling drought.

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From Al Jazeera. Any opinions expressed are those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Iraq is running out of water.

Its planning ministry says about 90 percent of land is now desert and the small amount of remaining farmland is shrinking by five percent each year.

Now farmers say their futures are dying with their crops.

Al Jazeera’s Rob Matheson reports from Baghdad:

By John Lee.

Iraq is expected to significantly increase its imports of wheat, as it reportedly cuts the irrigated area it plants with wheat by half in the 2018-2019 growing season due to the continuing water shortages.

Deputy Agriculture Minister Mahdi al-Qaisi told Reuters:

“The shortage of water resources, climate change and drought are the main reasons behind this decision, our expectation is the area will shrink to half.”

The country already imports more than one million tonnes of wheat per year, with annual demand of around 4.5 to 5.0 million tonnes.

Full report here.

(Source: Reuters)

The Prime Minister of Iraqi Kurdistan, Nechirvan Barzani, received the Netherlands new Consul General to the Kurdistan Region, Mr. Willem Consijn and his accompanying delegation.

Consul General Consijn stressed his country’s willingness to strengthen the relations with the Kurdistan Region.

Prime Minister Barzani congratulated Consul General Consijn on his new position and wished him success in his duties, assuring him of his government’s support during his mission.

He stressed Kurdistan Regional Government’s desire to strengthen bilateral relations and cooperation, especially in the agriculture sector.

He also thanked the Dutch government for its humanitarian and military assistance to the Kurdistan Region, particularly in the field of the reform of the Ministry of Peshmerga Affairs.

Prime Minister Barzani’s recent visit to the Netherlands and his meeting with Prime Minister Mark Rutte was also discussed.

(Source: KRG)

The Cabinet held its weekly regular meeting in Baghdad on Tuesday under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi, and discussed progress in the implementation of measures to improve the delivery of essential services across Iraq.

It approved an allocation of 4 billion Iraqi dinars for the comprehensive and immediate maintenance of the soil barrier with Iran to protect Basra’s farms and oil fields from polluted water from the Iranian side.

It also voted to fund several key projects in Basra, Dhi Qar, Al-Muthana and Najaf provinces, and received a briefing on the Nebras petrochemical complex in Basra which will provide thousands of jobs and boost the local economy.

The Cabinet also discussed current and future plans to support the agricultural sector across Iraq.

The Cabinet approved the establishment of a consulate for the Republic of Lebanon in the city of Najaf.

(Source: Iraqi Govt)