Mosul farmers given fertilizer to make up for two years of no production4/2/2017
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – With a sharp decline in agricultural products in the Nineveh province as a result of two years of conflict, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has stepped in to raise production by providing tons of fertilizer to local farmers.
The UN said in a statement that 750 tons of fertilizer has been given to more than 2 000 farmers “to increase production of their winter wheat crops.”
Dr. Fadel El-Zubi, FAO Representative in Iraq was quoted as saying: “When farmers can no longer access or afford inputs like fertilizer and pesticides, their crops, should they be able to plant them at all, are unlikely to thrive,”
“Since 2014, this is one of the factors that has contributed to countrywide cereal shortages and a sharp rise in the cost of basic food commodities in Iraq,” he said.“Restoring people’s ability to farm and trade in conflict-affected communities is not only important for food security, but also for building peace and prosperity in the country.”
The main areas of distribution were Alqosh and Sheikan districts of Nineveh each of which received 350 kilograms of fertilizer “half of which will be used now for planting and the other half in spring to boost the wheat’s growth.”
“The shortage of fertilizer has been a challenge for us. We can’t afford to buy it,” the organization quoted Seve Kheder Slo, a local wheat farmer. “We just planted our winter wheat crop and we’ll use this fertilizer straight away. It will support the crop to grow more than it would otherwise.”
“With nearly one-third of Iraqis requiring humanitarian assistance, food security remains one of the most worrying aspects of the crisis in Iraq.” UN believes. “Some 77 percent of Iraq’s 2.9 million food insecure people are women, children or elderly.”
Farmers in Nineveh province—described as Iraq’s wheat belt by FAO—have not been able to sell their product to the Iraqi government due to more than two years of war with ISIS and a sharp decline in oil prices which has affected the state’s purchasing powers.
“Wheat farmers in Ninewa Governorate and other parts of Iraq’s wheat belt rely on selling their crops to the Government for its Public Distribution System – an important social safety net entitling Iraqi citizens to receive rations of flour, rice, sugar and cooking oil from the government.” UN said in its press release.
It added: “However the cost of fighting ISIL, as well as low oil prices, saw government austerity measures introduced, including delayed payments for wheat. Unpaid farmers cannot afford agricultural inputs such as fertilizer, pesticides and herbicides, which are important for healthier and higher yielding crops.”
The organization says its fertilizer distribution was conducted in coordination with the Iraqi government and exactly when some farmers returned home and winter rain started to fall.