28 April 2003, Rome -- At
least one-third of Iraq's critical spring grain crop
appears to have emerged unscathed from the conflict, according
to preliminary surveys conducted by FAO.
a statement issued today, FAO warned however, that the fate of
the bulk of the winter crop of cereals, some 1.2 million tonnes
of sorely needed wheat and barley, remains in doubt.
The UN agency based its preliminary assessment on
reports received from national staff in Iraq.
In Iraq's three northern governorates (Erbil,
Dohuk, Sulaimaniyah) most farmers were not displaced from their
fields during the conflict, which means they are well placed to
begin harvesting their grain crops in a few weeks.
The northern governorates are expected to produce
between 30 and 35 percent of this year's total estimated
crop of 1.7 million tonnes of grain.
the harvest in the north proceeds on schedule, it will help
alleviate food shortages by producing more than
000 tonnes of wheat and barley, enough to fill at least 20 000
truckloads that would otherwise have to be imported.
The Euphrates valley crop
The situation is less clear in the 18
governorates in the center and south, especially in the grain
growing regions south of Baghdad between the Tigris and
Euphrates rivers, where another third of the cereal crop is
While still too early to
predict the loss of the Euphrates valley crop of wheat, barley
and rice, there may well be difficulties, according to FAO.
Unlike the rain-fed northern crop, the
southern crop depends entirely on irrigation, which is in turn
heavily reliant on electricity and fuel supply to run the
pumping networks. There are similar difficulties with the spring
crop of vegetables in the south, also entirely dependent on
Internal trade of food and
vegetables has often been disrupted, which sometimes has led to
significant price increases.
northern governorates, chicken prices shot up by 20 percent,
motivated in part by the fact that poultry producers in the
north stopped hatching and raising new chicks during the
fighting because they could not ship products to traditional
markets in Baghdad and other parts of the south.
Fuel prices, too, have soared, heightening the burden
on Iraq's heavily mechanized farming structure. With the
ceasing of hostilities, diesel prices have returned to normal,
gasoline prices are between 50 and 75 percent higher than
FAO has recently launched
an appeal for $86 million covering agricultural assistance to
secure crop and livestock production and improve agricultural
productivity in Iraq.
To date, several
donors have shown interest in the appeal, with $2.5 million
pledged by the UK.
Information Officer, FAO
(+39) 06 570