By John Lee.

Local wheat production in Iraq could reach almost 3 million tonnes in the 2018-2019 season, up from 2.17 million tonnes in the previous year, according to Reuters.

While the total area of wheat planted using irrigation has fallen from one million hectares in the 2017-2018 season to 550,000 hectares this season, better rainfall will account for the increased production.

This is expected will cover 60 percent of the needs of Iraq’s food rationing programme, which needs between 4.5 million to 5 million tonnes of wheat annually.

(Source: Reuters)

WFP supports Iraq in modernising its Public Distribution System

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and the Government of Iraq have launched an initiative to digitise the national public distribution system (PDS).

The first phase of digitisation will reach nearly 1.3 million people in and around Baghdad and Dohuk.

The PDS is Iraq’s biggest social safety net, providing food entitlements to almost the entire population in Iraq of 39 million people.

WFP is providing technical support to the government as it starts using identification technology and a citizen database to reduce processing time, improve service and maximise resources.

“The initiative guarantees the most efficient use of government resources and ensures that the intended citizens receive their food entitlement,” said WFP Country Director and Representative in Iraq Sally Haydock at the launch in Baghdad. “We’re using digitisation to better serve Iraqi citizens through this key social safety net.”

With WFP’s support, the government will move to a digitised system where citizens’ data is safely encrypted and stored, and where security is enhanced using fingerprints or iris scans. This will allow the government to identify and remove duplicate records as well as conduct biometric verification at the time of food collection. The new system replaces the current paper-based system.

WFP is also designing a mobile application, myPDS, that people can use to collect their entitlements as well as to update their family information about births, deaths and marriages – at their convenience, using personal smartphones.

“The ministry is working on updating data as we put in place technology-based solutions that address people’s needs,” said the Iraqi Minister of Trade Mohammed Hashem Al-Ani.

WFP is partnering on the initiative with the Iraqi Ministry of Trade. Modernising the PDS is one of the priorities of Iraq’s National Poverty Reduction Strategy (2018 – 2022). WFP’s partnership with the ministry dates to the early 1990s when WFP established a database for the PDS.

(Source: WFP)

By John Lee.

Reuters reports that Etihad Food Industries is looking to sign one- or two-year raw sugar importing contracts with large trading firms after its current contract with Alvean runs out in November.

Haidar al-Noumany, Commercial Director, told the news agency that Etihad imported 1.047 million tonnes of raw sugar last year for its Babil-based sugar refinery. Most of this came from Brazil, with around 25,000 tonnes from India.

The company produced 1.03 million tonnes of sugar in 2016, selling 940,000 tonnes, mostly to the Iraqi market, with 60 percent of that going to the Public Distribution System (PDS), Iraq’s food rationing programme. The company claims a 99.5 percent share of Iraq’s white sugar market.

The plant is expected to double its capacity with an expansion starting next year, which will enable exports to countries like Turkey, Syria and Jordan.

The company’s nearby vegetable oil refinery is expected to start production in March, reaching full capacity of 3,600 tonnes per day within six months. It will produce mostly sunflower oil, competing with Turkish vegetable oil, but also soybean oil, palm oil and corn oil.

It will need to import crude vegetable oils, with two 35,000-tonne cargoes already purchased from Cargill.

(Source: Reuters)