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dreams of Babylon rising
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FEATURE-Iraq rice yield up as water, power supplies grow



IRAQ-GRAINS/HARVEST (FEATURE, PIX, TV)
* Rice yield expected to rise this year

* Crop boosted by increased water supplies

* Iraq is one of world's largest grain importers

By Khalid al-Ansary

MESHKHAB, Iraq, Dec 20 (Reuters) - The yellow fields on the banks of the Euphrates are producing higher yields of aromatic Iraqi No. 1 rice this year thanks to increased water supplies and enough electricity to run irrigation pumps.

Standing over a massive pile of unhusked brown rice, farmer Adil Hassan tosses his crop into the air with a hand shovel to separate the chaff and expose the rice to the sun to dry.

Aided by government-subsidised fertilizer and insecticides, Iraqi farmers like Hassan are having some success increasing production along the Euphrates south of Baghdad in an area that was the heart of the ancient world's Fertile Crescent.

Government officials are projecting an 11 percent increase in rice yield per hectare from this year's harvest over last, and 18 percent better than two years ago.

"Our problem is water and electricity every year," said Hassan, 29, as his four small children played nearby. "When there is water, there is no electricity ... we can't water all the planted land. Or vice versa.

"The yield is much better this year than last because of the availability of water and fertilizer," Hassan said recently in the midst of the yearly harvest in the area of Meshkhab.

Iraq is one of the world's top 10 importers of rice and wheat, which are purchased by the government to supply a huge food rationing programme held over from the Saddam Hussein era.

Decades ago, Iraq's bread basket was a leading producer. It exported wheat and barley and was, at one time, the world's top exporter of dates.

But entrenched problems with soil salinity, poor irrigation and in the last three years, a severe drought, combined to make it a major buyer on world markets.

Encouraged by the high prices offered by the government, farmers like Hassan, whose families have worked the land in the Euphrates basin for generations, are boosting planted acreage and yield in the Najaf region south of Baghdad.

"Every season the planted acreage increases because the prices are good and this encourages the farmer to increase the planted acreage," said Hakim Takleef, a spokesman for the Najaf agricultural department. "In addition, the government subsidises the agricultural requirements needed."

PRODUCTIVITY BOOST

The government offers its farmers $583 per tonne for rice, far more than the $420-$430 per tonne it pays for imported rice on world markets.

The Iraqi grain board expects farmers to sell the government between 150,000 and 175,000 tonnes of rice this year, a big improvement over last year's harvest of 119,000 tonnes but still far from meeting the country's growing needs.

Iraq consumes 1.2 million tonnes annually, according to government figures.

The government has consolidated the rice crop in three central provinces, Najaf, Diwaniya and Wassit, allowing it to direct more water to fewer fields.

As a result, planted acreage of rice nationwide has fallen in the last three years, according to government figures, from about 85,000 hectares in 2008 to around 48,000 this year.

Yield has gone up each of those years, from about 2,900 kg per hectare in 2008 to a projected 3,460 kg this year, officials said.

Farming is one of Iraq's biggest employers but contributes less than 3 percent to state revenue, far behind the oil sector, which accounts for 95 percent of the federal budget.

The sector gets little government investment as Iraq focuses on tapping its vast oil reserves for the billions of dollars it needs to rebuild after years of war and economic sanctions.

Rice farmers saw some relief this year from a crippling three-year drought as the ministry of water resources captured winter rain and snow in reservoirs and put the extra supplies to work this summer.

At the same time, Iraq's feeble electrical grid is supplying a bit more power, allowing farmers to run pumps to carry water from canals to the fields.

Future yield gains for Iraq's farmers, however, may be limited by factors out of Iraq's control.

As an example, Turkey's controversial Ilisu hydroelectric project, which would dam the Tigris in Iraq's neighbour to the north, could limit the flow of water to Iraq.

Hassan is hopeful he will be able to continue to boost the yield in his fields but says he needs the government's help.

"If, in the coming years, the government increases the subsidies of fertilizers, insecticides, water supplies, and electricity, the yield will be higher," he said. "We (also) hope the government will increase the purchase price, because the end benefit out of this huge piece of land is very little." (Editing by Jim Loney)


http://www.forexyard.com/en/news/FE...-water-power-supplies-grow-2010-12-20T121926Z
 

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dreams of Babylon rising
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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
so lets make some calculations.

an "average" small farm is about 30 hectares. Each hectare yield 3.5 tonnes of rice, the government pays $583 for every tonne. Government also gives free fertiliser, pumps, electricity to the farmer and picks up the rice.

so the farmer earns:
30x3.5x$583 = $61k per annum from a small farm managable by 2-3 people (family members), about $5000 per month.

Contrast that with the farmer moving to baghdad, and doing menial jobs for about $300-$400 per month, the only thing that surprises me is that no one is leaving baghdad to move into farming...

then comes the next surprise. why are people paying $10-$15k per person to smugglers to take them to europe/australia just so they end up living on social security or doing menial jobs for minimum wage??
 

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so lets make some calculations.

an "average" small farm is about 30 hectares. Each hectare yield 3.5 tonnes of rice, the government pays $583 for every tonne. Government also gives free fertiliser, pumps, electricity to the farmer and picks up the rice.

so the farmer earns:
30x3.5x$583 = $61k per annum from a small farm managable by 2-3 people (family members), about $5000 per month.

Contrast that with the farmer moving to baghdad, and doing menial jobs for about $300-$400 per month, the only thing that surprises me is that no one is leaving baghdad to move into farming...

then comes the next surprise. why are people paying $10-$15k per person to smugglers to take them to europe/australia just so they end up living on social security or doing menial jobs for minimum wage??
I know a lot of kurds from Europe that bought plots of land and got money of the government to set up a farm.. see you need money to make money, I guess some people can't afford the land as I know that land can be pretty expensive and the people that need jobs just can't afford it. The problem is the government only helps you once you got the land.
 

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Iraq could meet half of wheat demand in 2011

Increased rainfall could help Iraq meet half of the country's needs for wheat in 2011, a deputy agriculture minister said.

Iraq, one of the world's biggest grain importers, will need about 4.5 million tonnes of wheat this year, the official, Subhi al-Jumaily, told Reuters.

'We could reach 50 per cent of Iraq's needs for wheat,' al-Jumaily said, citing higher rainfall for the optimistic outlook.

'It is an indication that the coming season will be good in comparison to the drought years Iraq has gone through,' he said. 'It's a reason for optimism, knowing that the rains have covered all parts of Iraq.'

Iraq's farmers sold 1.866 million tonnes of wheat to the government grain board in 2009/2010, up from 1.25 million tonnes the previous season, officials said last year.

Iraq's population of around 30 million consumes at least 4.5 million tonnes of wheat and one million tonnes of rice annually.

Decades of war, sanctions and strife have decimated Iraq's agricultural sector, which has gone from being an important grain producer to a leading importer. Much of the imported wheat and rice goes to feed a huge public food ration programme.

http://www.tradearabia.com/news/AGRI_192928.html
 

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dreams of Babylon rising
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Najaf Council has given an investment licence for an ostrich farm.

 

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Iraq plans $700M water plan to grow more wheat
Mar 18, 2011 5:30 PM - 0 comments TEXT SIZE By: Khalid al-Ansary
BAGHDAD | REUTERS
Crops, Markets, Weather
Major wheat importer Iraq plans to start an eight-year, US$700 million irrigation programme this year, part of a plan to increase wheat production by more than 60 per cent to three million tonnes.

Popular anger at rising food prices has been an explosive ingredient in the mix of grievances that triggered the fall of leaders in Egypt and Tunisia, and is now putting the heat on authorities in Iraq and other Arab countries.

Iraq's population of around 30 million consumes at least 4.5 million tonnes of wheat annually, with much of its imported wheat and rice going towards a huge public food ration programme. It produced 1.86 million tonnes of wheat last year.

Deputy agriculture minister Ghazi al-Abboudi said the plan included the installation of irrigation systems across two million acres of land and added 1.875 million acres of wheat would be planted.

"God willing the project will start by the last quarter of this year... (and wheat) production will be at three million tonnes (by 2019)," Abboudi told Reuters in an interview, adding the project was also aimed at helping reduce the amount of water used to irrigate Iraq's lands.

Soft loans

Decades ago, Iraq's bread basket was a leading producer, but years of war, sanctions and neglect have hit the agriculture sector hard. A chronic water shortage and severe drought in recent years have also hurt production.

Abboudi said the ministry had set aside 40 billion Iraqi dinars (US$34 million) to buy 3,000 sprinklers for the project and that it had recently approved a tender to buy around 500 irrigation systems from European and U.S. firms.

Iraq complains that hydroelectric dams and irrigation in Turkey, Iran and Syria have reduced water flow in its main rivers, the Euphrates and the Tigris.

Investment in dilapidated infrastructure like water pumps is vital for the agriculture and oil sectors, as well as a broader reconstruction effort eight years after a U.S.-led invasion.

To encourage investment in the agriculture industry, Iraq's government had set up a $500 million a year fund from the federal government budget to be given as soft loans, without interest, to farmers and investors, Abboudi said.

"The efforts of the agricultural initiative fund are focused on all crops but the priority is for the strategic crops (wheat and rice)," Abboudi said.

He said 84 billion Iraqi dinars had also been set aside this year to give interest-free soft loans to livestock farmers and investors looking to develop the agriculture industry.

Farming is Iraq's largest employer, but it trails far behind the all-important oil sector in terms of economic output and very little investment has been put into the industry so far.
 

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Dreams of Babylon Rising
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^^ read this today, it seems that they are aiming too low ! 3 million Tonnes by 2019 is no where enough for self sufficiency.. that's not even enough for today's population let alone for 2019 :S
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
The Iraqi Agriculture Ministry revealed Sunday that Iraq is producing 50% of the wheat the country requires.
The ministry’s spokesman, Karim al-Tamimi, told AKnews, “Iraq currently produces only two million tonnes of wheat due to lack of water needed for cultivation as well as the migration of many farmers from villages to cities.”
“The Ministry of Agriculture is working to develop a plan to organize the usage of water sprinklers and irrigation which will improve the rate of production of wheat during the next season.”
Specialists in water resources affairs stated that Iraq is one of the most wasteful countries in terms of water usage because of its old irrigation mechanisms.
The Ministry of Water Resources had confirmed that the main obstacle that hinders strategic projects is financial allocations that do not fit with the plans and projects developed by the ministry. In December it started preparing a strategic study in collaboration with global companies to determine the future of water in Iraq until 2044.
The availability of water in Iraq is about 50 billion cubic meters, 60% of which from Tigris River and the rest from Euphrates, as well as energy storage in dams and tanks totalling 149 billion cubic meters, while its water needs are expected to reach about 77 billion cubic meters by 2015.
Despite the rainfall over the past few days, Iraq still suffers from drought due to lack of rainfall for more than two years, in addition to the low water levels in rivers within Iraq, particularly from the Tigris and Euphrates.
Iraq accuses Turkey and Syria of being responsible for low water levels in rivers entering it because of their irrigation and agricultural project.
The Ministry of Water Resources stressed on the need to convert oral water agreements with Iran and Turkey to formal agreements to save the country’s share of water.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Basra Investment Commission has granted an investment license for an agricultural project to construct a technical laboratory for tissue cultivation in a cost of 4.8 billion Iraqi Dinars [$4m].
The project includes the building of a laboratory to produce palm trees and plants by using tissues. It also includes a research and studies centre to develop the agricultural sector in Iraq.
The project is located in Al-Sagher Al-Ulaa Island and is to be completed within 18 months.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
In the context of efforts to boost investment and support the investment process ongoing in the province of Muthanna, signed Director of Agriculture Muthanna Al Hussein Ali Mahdi contract farming with invested Bushra Hashim Nur Yasiri rental property No. (10 / M 9 Abu salt and the island), located in the district and vegetables-square-mile (40 ) acres allowance annual rent of $ (2000) dinars per acre as of the date of commencement for a period of fifteen years subject to renewal on the basis of Article (11) of the Iraqi investment law No. (13) for the year 2006. It was the conclusion of the contract on the investment license issued by the Investment Commission Muthanna, the eighth of April. This is the first contract of its kind in the field of investment contracts in the agricultural sector in the province and the country in general. The Investment Authority granted investment license Thirty-seventh for the purpose of a complex project Poultry integrated consists of five fields of eggs hatching maternal and hatchery card three million birds a year and five rooms fields for chicken meat in addition to the laboratory for poultry feed.
 

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dreams of Babylon rising
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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Visitors: 62
Muthanna Investment Commission granted two licenses Astosmareeten for the implementation of agricultural projects in the province worth (12) million U.S. $

Where the investment license granted to a company the White Lion for contracting construction and general trade for the implementation of Samawah farm for agricultural production and livestock with a capital of up to ($ 2 million) that the project will be implemented within two years from the date of granting leave.

Also granted leave to the company Dora the Euphrates to trade, engineering and construction to create a city

Zulfiqar agricultural productivity with a capital estimated at ($ 10 million) and the duration of the implementation of five years.

The province of Muthanna area is characterized by an abundance of arable land, surface water and groundwater and the right climate for the cultivation of different types of agricultural crops as the proximity of large governorates create a large market for the disposal of agricultural and animal products
 

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(Reuters) - Standing in the middle of what was once a date palm oasis overlooking the Tigris River, Salim Abdulla al-Salim sees little hope in Iraq's quest to relive its heyday as the world's leading producer of dates.

Once, before its 1980s war with Iran, Iraq had 30 million date palms producing 1 million tonnes of dates annually.

But Saddam Hussein's military campaigns and decades of neglect savaged the industry, cutting the number of trees in half and yearly production to 420,000 tonnes.

Young Iraqis, needed to scale the tall palms to hand-cut and lower bunches of golden fruit to the ground, see no future in it and are leaving the orchards for government jobs with better salaries and fewer hardships, Salim said.

"The industry is not viable any more. The revenues don't cover the money spent on preparing the palms for production," said Salim, a date farmer with 6,000 trees.

"In the past, the young generations were adopting their ancestors' jobs, but now they have shifted to police, army and civil jobs, abandoning the date industry," said Salim, standing in his dusty palm orchard in Baghdad's Doura district of Doura.

Iraq, which relies on its vast oil and gas fields for most of its economy, now ranks only 7th among world date producers, according to Kamil Mikhlif al-Dulaimi, head of the Agriculture Ministry's date palm board.

But the ministry has an ambitious $80 million plan to rebuild the date palm inventory up to 40 million trees in 10 years and to introduce more marketable varieties.

"We are working now to change the date palm map, and to produce the species the world wants," Dulaimi said.

Ninety percent of Iraq's production is one variety of date, the Zehdi. The ministry is expanding the menu to include the Hillawi, Khadrawi, Sayer, Maktoom, Derrie, Ashrasi and Barhee varieties.

It is also introducing new types of laboratory-produced trees that will bear fruit in two years instead of the four or five it usually takes.

The ministry recently signed a $17 million contract to buy seven crop-spraying helicopters to fight orchard pests.

"Having these helicopters means a big step forward for the agriculture sector," Deputy Agriculture Minister Ghazi al-Abboudi said in an interview.

BOOSTING PRODUCTION

The government's hope is to double production to more than 800,000 tonnes annually in two years' time, Abboudi said.

Dulaimi's goal appears more modest -- to boost the industry to 800,000-1 million tonnes in ten years.

In the 1970s Iraq sent 700,000 tonnes of dates abroad each year but last year exported only 200,000 tonnes, according to Mohammad Sulaiman, head of the Iraqi government's date processing and marketing company.

Domestically, Iraq consumes about 100,000 tonnes yearly, and farmers in a depressed industry grumble about imports of foreign dates. "I wonder why the government allows imported dates in? Don't we have dates?" asks Salim, the date farmer.

His groves are filled with weeds. Many of his trees have brittle brown fronds hanging limply, and clumps of dried fruit that should have been picked months ago. Salim said he didn't bother because it would not have been financially worthwhile.

Iraqi date palms produced 150-200 kg (330-440 pounds) per tree in the 1990s, when water quality, fertilizers, pollination and pest control were better. Output is now down to just 50 kg, according to Salim.

The government is trying to help farmers boost production via subsidies for fertilizers and crop-dusting helicopters, agriculture officials say, and offers soft loans for processing and storage facilities.

"We started to give loans to investors to build warehouses, and they are increasing. We have now around 80 warehouses in Iraq," Abboudi said.

The ministry also buys dates at $385 a tonne and sells to exporters at half that price to shore up the industry, he said -- effectively subsidizing farmers to keep them cultivating dates.

But farmers like Salim say they would rather sell to a private middle man at $300 a tonne than face the Iraqi government's tangled bureaucracy for the extra $85.

Feroun Ahmed Hussein, the owner of 4,000 palms in Baghdad's Doura district, said many farmers are selling off their land for housing projects despite farm-protection laws enacted before the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that are still on the books.

"Some people figured that the government is not in a strong position and started to sell these agricultural lands to turn them into residential," Hussein said.

Agriculture contributes about 10.2 percent to gross domestic product, according to government statistics, a relatively small slice of an emerging economy dominated by oil.

Iraq has signed deals with oil companies that it hopes will vault it into the top rank of world producers in six years.

But Dulaimi said Iraq should not rely only on oil.

"We are an agricultural country ... it is not in our policy to keep depending on oil," he said. "Oil will run out one day."
 

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Agriculture Ministry Allocates $285m for Dates

AKnews reports that the Iraqi Ministry of Agriculture has announced the allocation of $285 million [350 billion Iraqi dinars] for the rehabilitation of the country’s palm groves.
Ministry spokesman Karim al-Tamimi told the agency that $177.3m of the allocation will fund an investment plan put together by the General Authority of Palms, $76.3m will be used for private investment plans through the ministry and the remaining $31.4m will fund loans to palm grove owners.
The Iraqi government launched a comprehensive initiative to improve the agricultural situation in the country in July 2007, setting a ten year deadline for Iraq to reach the stage of self-sufficiency in strategic crops.
The initiative includes, among other things, supporting farmers with seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, land reclamation, and ensuring the purchase of strategic crops at market prices.
Iraq today has 11 million date palms and the Ministry aims to raise that to 30 million over the next ten years.
The renewal of date exportation from Iraq is part of the government’s plan to develop alternative sources of revenue in an economy that has an almost 95% dependency on oil revenues.
In the 1970s, Iraq’s 34 million date palms accounted for 30% of the world total. Official figures indicate that annual exports from the Basra province alone reached more than 130,000 tons.
Iraq now ranks only 7th among world date producers, according to Kamil Mikhlif al-Dulaimi, head of the Agriculture Ministry’s date palm board.
The region, once home to almost 13 million palm trees, acclaimed to be among the finest in the world, suffered greatly during the Iraqi-Iranian war which began in 1980 when the Saddam regime ordered the ‘beheading’ or bulldozing of many of the palms as part of a campaign to enhance security in the region.
In more recent years, the outbreak of the 2003 war to bring down the Saddam regime, heralded further devastation to the agricultural areas of Faw and Abu Khusaib and Shatt al-Arab in the Basrah province.
Many orchards were seriously damaged as hundreds of families were displaced from the Ahwar marshes to the palm groves. At the same time, benefiting from the chaos in the region, gangs were seizing farmland by force and reselling it to developers.

 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Iraq sees higher wheat harvest, to suspend imports
May 25, 2011 6:49 PM - 0 comments TEXT SIZE *BAGHDAD | REUTERS
Crops, Markets
Iraq expects its wheat harvest to increase to between two million and 2.5 million tonnes this year, the agriculture minister said on Tuesday, up from 1.866 million tonnes in the 2009-10 season when rains were good.

"We expect wheat to be above two million tonnes," Izzedine al-Dawla told reporters.

Al-Dawla also said he had asked the economic committee at the council of ministers to halt wheat imports until the local harvest ends, to curb illegal reselling of imported grain as local produce to benefit from high prices.

"Prices (of wheat) in Iraq are the highest in the region," he said at a news conference.

Iraq's government pays the steep prices to encourage farmers to plant more local wheat to increase domestic production and reduce the need for heavy reliance on imports.

The country is one of the world's largest grain importers, with rice and wheat supplying a national food ration program. It consumes around 4.5 million tonnes of wheat a year.

The Canadian Wheat Board last summer estimated its 2009-10 wheat exports to Iraq at 1.18 million tonnes, making Iraq the CWB's top export customer by volume in that crop year.
 

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Iraq's trade ministry has cancelled direct cash purchases of essential food items, such as sugar, wheat and rice, as a measure to halt corruption, Deputy Trade Minister Sweiba Mahmoud said on Sunday.

The move was announced as a 100-day target set by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to improve his fragile coalition government's performance in the face of popular protests against shortages and corruption neared its early June deadline.

Although direct cash food purchases were being halted, Iraq, one of the world's largest grain importers, would continue to hold public and selective tenders to supply its food needs.

Most of the essential food items imported for the national monthly food ration programme had come from direct cash purchases, a ministry source said.

Mahmoud told a news conference the bulk of corruption problems in the country's food supply channels had been experienced in the area of direct cash purchases.

"There was a mechanism of cash purchase in the trade ministry and this mechanism has been cancelled," she said.

Like other countries in the Arab world, Iraq, its oil- dependent economy battered by war and sectarian violence since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein, has faced protests this year by citizens angry about corruption and a lack of public services and jobs.

This included complaints about the monthly food ration giving Iraqis supplies of rice, cooking oil and other staples.

Iraq consumes around 4.5 million tonnes of wheat a year, 1.2 million tonnes of rice, and 780,000 tonnes of sugar annually.

Maliki, who is under pressure from the protests and over the scheduled withdrawal by the year-end of the last remaining U.S. troops in his still volatile country, has said he will sack ministers if his cross-sectarian administration does not improve its performance. Critics say it is he who should resign.

Mahmoud said Iraq had enough sugar in stock to last until September. "We have enough reserves in the trade ministry warehouses to cover requirements until the end of September," she said.

She added the government intended to phase out the food ration programme by the end of 2014, keeping it only for the most needy. This would give more of a chance for the private sector to import national food requirements.

The ministry had requested a total budget allocation for 2011 of 7 trillion dinars ($6 billion), but had only received 4 trillion ($3.4 billion) so far, which was just enough to cover the food ration programme needs until the end of September.

Mahmoud said the deficit in relation to the total requested had slowed the ministry's performance, but it expected to receive a supplementary budget from oil revenues.
 

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Iraq’s Wheat and Cotton Threatened by Invasive Weed
Posted on 29 May 2011. Tags: silverleaf nightshade

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has reported that it is assisting farmers in Iraq and Syria to battle a devastating alien weed that sucks nutrients from the soil and starves crops of much-needed water.
The berries of the weed, known as silverleaf nightshade (Solanum elaeagnifolium), can also poison livestock if ingested, according to the Rome-based agency.
The weed, which has very deep roots and is covered in spines, is a relative of the tomato originally hailing from tropical America. FAO says it probably arrived in the Middle East through trade, its seeds hidden in containers or in bags of agricultural commodities.
More than 60 per cent of the cultivated land in Syria, growing mainly cotton and wheat, has now been infested with the weed. The berries of the weed, known as silverleaf nightshade (Solanum elaeagnifolium), can also poison livestock if ingested, according to the Rome-based agency.
In north-western Iraq, a similar mass infestation has been reported and the weed has also been spotted in various sites in Lebanon and Jordan, where it will spread if nothing is done, warns FAO.
The agency is implementing a project to help farmers manage and prevent further spread of silverleaf nightshade in all four countries.
“We want to introduce an integrated weed management approach, which means we will not focus on herbicides, although we might use them if we have to, but instead we would rather test sustainable alternative management possibilities,” said Gualbert Gbèhounou, FAO Weed Officer.
FAO is recommending that farmers rotate regular crops with the fodder crop alfalfa, which covers the ground and competes with silverleaf nightshade.
“This prevents the weed from producing new seeds and also reduces amount of weed seed in the soil,” the agency noted.
It is also encouraging countries to review their regulatory environments and collaborate to reinforce control of silverleaf nightshade at the national and regional levels.

Bad news....
 

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WASSIT / Aswat al-Iraq: Over 250,000 tons of wheat have been marketed by peasants and farmers of the agricultural crop for 2010-2011, the Director of Wassit’s Branch of the stated-owned General Company for Grain Trading has stated on Tuesday.

“The stores of the General Company for Grain Trading in Kut and Suwaira towns have received 253,000 tons of grain, within the winter season of 2010-2011, whilst an agreement had been reached for marketing of crops of the northern parts of Wassit Province to Baghdad’s Rusafa stores,” Engineer Malik Khalaf told Aswat al-Iraq news agency.

Iraq’s Trade Ministry recently announced that southern Iraq’s Wassit Province leads among the country’s provinces in growing and marketing wheat and barley for the current season.

Noteworthy is that the 2009-2010 winter season had witnessed the planting of one million and 26,000 donums of wheat and barley, while 751,000 donums were planted by wheat and 275,000 donums with barley.

Kut, the center of Wassit Province, is 180 km to the southeast of Baghdad.
 
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