Reference Date: 22-October-2012
FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT
Cereal harvest in 2012 forecast to be below 2011
Import requirement of cereals in 2012/13 (July/June) is forecast at 5.3 million tonnes, 2 percent up on 2011/12
Below average cereal harvest forecast
Final estimates of the 2012 cereal harvest are not yet available. Following long dry spell in December and January, the overall cereal harvest in 2012 is put at about 3.2 million tonnes, 21 percent below last year’s crop and about 7 percent below the average.
Wheat production, at 2.1 million tonnes, is 12 percent below last year’s outturn although slightly above the five-year average. Strong wheat yields in the irrigated areas (Kirkuk, Wasit) compensated for very low yields in the rain-fed areas (the Mosul plateau). At 600 000 tonnes the barley harvest has decreased by almost 47 percent compared to last year, and 23 percent below the average.
In August 2012, the Iraq Grain Board reported that farmers shipped over 1.9 million tonnes of wheat to government silos and that the quality of wheat was very good, owing to modern production techniques and increasing use of irrigation. At 80 000 tonnes, the Government purchases of barley remain on the low side, partially because prices on open markets are higher.
Agriculture plays an important role in the latest five-year national development plan for the years 2013 – 2017 announced in September 2012. According to Ministry of Agriculture officials, Iraqi agricultural development plan calls for the production of 4.5 million tonnes of wheat, almost double of current levels, and a substantial increase in other cereals.
Elsewhere in the sector, the domestic poultry production potential improved in the first half of 2012. However, high feed costs resulting from generally higher grain prices on the world markets and lack of availability tied to the ongoing conflict in Syria are likely to keep the 2012 production at the 2011 level.
Cereal import requirements in 2012/13 forecast at record high levels
Forecast of cereal import requirements in marketing year 2012/13 (July/June) is put at a (new) record high level of 5.3 million tonnes, including 3.7 million tonnes of wheat and 1.3 million tonnes of rice. 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 flour monthly. In addition, given the lower levels of domestic wheat production, the need to maintain adequate supplies of feed wheat and the country’s intention to improve wheat flour quality by blending a higher percentage of imported wheat with local wheat varieties also contribute to increased imports.
A large grain importer, Iraq made several large purchases on the international market, procuring supplies from Australia, Russian Federation, and Canada.
Iraqi flour imports increased by 42 percent between 2010/11 and 2011/12, reaching 1.4 million tonnes of wheat equivalent, becoming the second-largest flour importer in the world, following Uzbekistan (1.9 million tonnes of wheat equivalent).
Cereal prices are stable mainly in response to the subsidies, other food commodity prices increasing
In September 2012, the Consumer Price Index increased by 0.3 percent compared to the previous month, and 6.4 percent compared to September 2011. The food inflation rate increased by 1.2 percent on monthly, and 7.8 percent on yearly basis. While cereal prices remained stable, increases were recorded for yoghurt, cheese, eggs, and fruits. Prices of cereals and cereal products increased by 0.2 percent compared to August 2012, owing to the Government subsidy programme.
Syrian refugees increasing in Iraq
As of mid-October 2012, around 40 000 Syrian refugees were registered in Iraq. The WFP continues providing food assistance to vulnerable Syrian populations in Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, and Turkey. The operation in Iraq should reach about 15 000 beneficiaries with in-kind food distributions and voucher assistance.