3 April 2003,
Conflict could be devastating for Iraq's
rural economy with consequences on the country's capacity
to produce food, FAO warned today in the wake of its recent
launch of a $86 million appeal to help meet the emergency.
Close to two-thirds of Iraq's
24.5 million people rely entirely for their daily sustenance on
food baskets provided under the UN's Oil-for-Food
Programme, halted since the war began.
FAO, responsible for the Oil-for-Food Programme's
agricultural component, said Iraq's farmers will require
seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, machinery, fuel, spare parts and
other tools they need to plant, harvest and secure current and
Animal feed, vaccines and
medicines are needed for the farmers' livestock.
Saving the "bread
concern is the approaching harvest of the winter wheat and
barley crop, expected to begin in late April and estimated at
between 1.5 and 1.7 million tonnes of grain.
"Loss of the winter harvest, especially in
Iraq's northern 'bread basket' provinces, which
account for more than half of the country's entire cereal
production, would further aggravate what is already a difficult
situation," said Laurent Thomas, Chief, Special
Emergency Programmes Service.
"All efforts have to be made to save this
harvest throughout the country where access will be feasible, by
making sure farmers are in position with their combine
harvesters working, and fuel, spare parts and storage in
place," said Thomas.
compelling is the need to ensure that planting for the irrigated
spring crop of vegetable, maize and rice proceeds on schedule.
The vegetable crop, a source of much-needed
cash as well as an essential supply of the vitamins, proteins
and micronutrients missing from the food-aid baskets, should be
FAO is appealing for more
than $20 million for three emergency projects to secure the
grain harvest and the spring and fall plantings.
There are six other projects in the $86 million
appeal, all designed to:
- increase food
- prevent outbreaks of animal
- ensure water supplies in rural
- coordinate relief
FAO also needs funds to improve,
plan and coordinate food security activities in collaboration
with other UN agencies and NGO's and to monitor their
impact on the nutritional status of the population.
Water a priority
Any disruption to the water supply, which provides
both drinking water and irrigation, will damage crops and
Provision has also
been made in the FAO appeal for pipes, pumps, drills and
technical expertise required to set-up emergency water supplies
and repair damaged irrigation networks, if needed.
A $9.8 million project is designed to support the
country's 4 000 poultry farms, another essential source of
the animal proteins missing from the food basket.
Prior to the outbreak of the current conflict, Iraq
was producing up to 155 000 metric tonnes of poultry meat and 2
billion eggs annually.
The lack of
veterinary services, vaccines, drugs and quarantine controls
could also result in the spread of animal diseases with serious
economic impact in Iraq and possibly with impact on the whole
Veterinary checks on the border of
neighbouring countries and vaccination campaigns will be
required to prevent outbreaks of animal diseases such as
foot-and-mouth disease and pestes des petits
among the country's 1.5 million head of
cattle and 18 million sheep and goats.
"These animals are the wealth of a large part
of Iraq's rural population," said Thomas.
"So if people move, they are going to take their
animals with them, increasing the risk of animal diseases
spreading within the country and possibly across
FAO News and Multimedia Service
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