By John Lee.

The study Technical and Environmental Efficiency of Wheat Farms in Saline Irrigated Areas of Central Iraq investigates the impact of soil salinity on technical efficiency (TE) and environmental efficiency (EE) in wheat production in central Iraq, where 360 farmers interviewed in winter season 2015-2016.

In developing countries, even though irrigated agricultural land covers only 20% of all arable land, it accounts for 47% and 60% of all crop and cereal production respectively. In total, 11% of irrigated area is affected by salinity (Pakistan, China, United States, and India present more than 60% of this percentage).

The removal of salts from the soil through leaching and drainage increases the salinity of drainage water, which then might be up to 50 times more concentrated than irrigation water, in which surface water supplies 62% of the irrigated area. Irrigated area disposal can raise the salinity of receiving water bodies to levels that make them no longer usable.

The Iraq Salinity Initiative, funded by the Australian Centre for International Research (ACIAR), AusAID and the Italian Government was designed in 2010 for the Government of Iraq and for the Iraq farmers by a group of international agencies led by ICARDA to solve the problems of Iraq’s salty soils and salty irrigation water.

More here.

(Source: ICARDA)

By John Lee.

Iraq is reportedly still holding discussions over the possible import of wheat from Russia.

Deputy trade minister Haitham Jameel Ismail al-Khshali told Reuters that a group of experts is looking into the issue, but it could be months before they reach a decision.

(Source: Reuters)

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

Thousands of dunams of wheat and barley crops were torched this month in Kirkuk, Ninevah, Salahuddin and Diyala provinces, adding agony to the harsh lives of Iraqi farmers and raising the question of who is really behind the fires?

Click here to read the full story.

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)

By John Lee.

Iraqi trade minister Mohammed Hashim has reportedly signed a deal on Thursday to import wheat and rice from the United States.

According to Reuters, the agreement covers the first half of 2019.

Meanwhile, Kurdistan 24 reports that a Russian delegation visited Baghdad this week to discuss exporting wheat to Iraq.

(Sources: Reuters, Kurdistan 24)

By John Lee.

A former Minister for Trade and two former State Directors of the Ministry have been sentenced in absentia to seven years in prison for corruption.

A statement from Iraq’s Commission of Integrity said the three committed offenses in two contracts between the State Company for Trading Grain and a company supplying basmati rice, with “damage to public money in the two contracts” of $14.3 million.

Middle East Online names the former minister as Malas Abdulkarim al-Kasnazani [Mlas Mohammed Al-Kasanzan] (pictured), who was dismissed from Haider al-Abadi’s cabinet in 2015.

(Sources: Commission of Integrity, Middle East Online)

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)

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)

By John Lee.

Despite this year’s drought, Iraq has reportedly bought more than 300,000 tonnes of domestic wheat this season, and maintained its estimate of 2.5 million tonnes of local purchases for the 2018 season.

According to Reuters, this implies an import gap of 2 million tonnes, as the country uses between 4.5 million and 5 million tonnes of wheat annually.

Iraq typically buys wheat of US, Canadian and Australian origin.

(Source: Reuters)