Reference Date: 06-August-2013
FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT
Cereal harvest in 2013 forecast at above average levels
Import requirement of cereals in 2013/14 (July/June) is forecast at 4.4 million tonnes, 13 percent down on 2012/13
Above average cereal harvest forecast
Final estimates of the 2013 cereal harvest are not yet available but indications point to an above average crop. Favourable conditions were reported in both rain-fed and irrigated areas, although heavy rainfall in early May (beginning of the harvest) has negatively affected the expected wheat yield in the southern part of the country in Muthanna, Dhi Qar, Maysan and Wasit provinces. Despite the losses, however, the official preliminary estimates put the overall cereal harvest in 2013 at a record high of about 4.7 million tonnes, 54 percent above last year’s below average crop, affected by long dry spells in winter, and about 43 percent above the average.
Wheat production, at 3.3 million tonnes, is 57 percent above last year’s outturn and the five-year average. At 940 000 tonnes, the barley harvest has increased by almost 88 percent compared to last year, and 40 percent above the average.
In August 2013, the Iraq Grain Board reported that farmers shipped over 3.5 million tonnes of wheat and barley to government silos. The Government procurement prices in May 2013 were IQD 792 000 a tonne of wheat (IQD 1 250/USD) compared to IQD 720 000 last year.
Cereal import requirements in 2013/14 forecast at below average
Forecast of cereal import requirements in marketing year 2013/14 (July/June) is put at 4.4 million tonnes, including 2.8 million tonnes of wheat and 1.3 million tonnes of rice. Despite above average domestic harvest, large import requirements are driven by Iraq’s aim to maintain three to six months supply of wheat in its food stocks, as well as commitment to supply each Iraqi citizen with nine kilograms of subsidised flour monthly. Iraqi traders often seek higher quality wheat with more protein and gluten for blending rather than the cheapest origins.
Cereal prices are stable mainly due to the subsidies
In June 2013, the Consumer Price Index increased by 0.9 percent compared to the previous month, and 2.3 percent compared to June 2012. The food inflation rate decreased by 3 percent on monthly, and increased by 0.7 percent on yearly basis. While cereal prices remained stable compared to a month ago, vegetable prices decreased by over 8 percent. Iraq’s Ministry of Trade, through the Public Food Distribution System, continues to subsidize basic staple food commodities (rice, wheat flour, vegetable oil, sugar and baby milk formula).
Syrian refugees increasing in Iraq
As of July 2013, over 160 000 Syrian refugees were registered in Iraq. The WFP continues providing food assistance to vulnerable Syrian populations in Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, and Turkey. Most of the Syrian refugees have settled in the northern governorates of Iraq’s Kurdistan Region. The operation in Iraq should reach about 80 000 beneficiaries with voucher assistance, and additional 15 000 with in-kind food distribution.