April 2003, Rome -- Farmers in Iraq are in urgent need
of spare parts and fuel for combine harvesters and tractors for
the upcoming spring harvest, FAO said today.
"Every effort should be made to enable
farmers to return to their fields and start harvesting wheat and
barley at the beginning of May," said Laurent Thomas,
Chief, Special Emergency Programmes Service.
"In addition, urgent support is needed to
revive cereal marketing and distribution facilities."
The outlook for this year's spring
crop, which is the main harvest, is uncertain, following the
recent military conflict, Thomas said.
Earlier estimates based on satellite images showing
rainfall and vegetation, indicate a spring cereal production,
mainly wheat and barley, about the same as last year's
production of about 1.7 million tonnes.
"This would cover nearly 30 percent of
Iraq's overall cereal requirements for the period July
2003-June 2004," Thomas said.
"A successful harvest would definitely
improve access to food and could help stimulate the rural
"Notwithstanding the potentially beneficial
crop harvest this spring, the bulk of Iraq's cereal
requirement will still have to be met through imports, including
substantial amounts of food aid," Thomas said.
Even in good harvest years, Iraq always
relied on substantial cereal imports.
Iraq's agricultural productivity, particularly in
major producing areas of central and southern Iraq, has
continued to suffer from limited investment, shortage of inputs
and deteriorating irrigation infrastructure.
FAO announced that, together with other partners, it
is planning to send a food supply and nutrition assessment
mission to Iraq as soon as the security conditions permit.
The UN agency has recently launched an
emergency aid appeal for Iraq for $86 million covering
agricultural assistance to secure crop and livestock production
and improve agricultural
Information Officer, FAO
(+39) 06 570