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Country Briefs


Reference Date: 21-June-2018


  1. Relatively favourable weather conditions prevail, but conflict continues to affect production

  2. Above-average cereal import requirements forecasted

  3. Number of food insecure declines as combat ends

Relatively favourable weather conditions prevail, but conflict continues to affect production

Harvesting of the 2018 winter season barley crop, which started in late April, is about to conclude. The wheat harvest started in mid-May and is expected to finish in early July. Irregular rains from October 2017 to early January 2018 delayed sowings in parts of the country, but soil moisture deficits were compensated by good precipitation received in spring. While weather conditions remain relatively favourable, concerns prevail about the impact the of conflict, particularly in the cereal production belt of Ninewah and Salahadin provinces. Remote sensing information indicates that some fields in the northwest parts of Mossoul and Dahuk provinces might have not been sown, possibly due to conflict-related constraints.

Machinery and irrigation structures in conflict areas are reported to be damaged. Due to the limited availability of irrigation water, farmers are encouraged to employ dry rice production techniques. Many farmers across the country resorted to planting uncertified seeds, resulting in lower yields due to the lack of timely hybrid seed distribution normally carried out by the Government. Supply shortages and soaring prices were also reported for fertilizers, pesticides and fuel due to supply chain disruptions. Consequently, the 2018 cereal harvest is forecast at below average 4.3 million tonnes. The preliminary wheat production forecast indicates a 14 percent reduction from last year’s level and almost a 20 percent decline compared to the five-year average.

In March 2018, the Grain Board of Iraq announced that the purchasing prices for the 2018 wheat crop would not change compared to 2017, when they were sharply reduced from previous years following lower international oil prices. Prices range from IQD 420 000 (as of late March 2018, equivalent to USD 350) to IQD 560 000 (USD 467) per tonne depending on the quality. The wheat purchased is used for the Public Distribution System (PDS), which distributes subsidized basic food rations to the population.

Above-average import requirements forecasted

Cereal import requirements in the upcoming 2018/19 marketing year (July/June) are forecast at 4.4 million tonnes, including 2.9 million tonnes of wheat (mostly as flour) and 1.1 million tonnes of rice. The total cereal import requirement is forecast to be similar to the previous year’s level, but about 20 percent above the five-year average.

Number of food insecure declines as combat ends

According to the 2018 Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) released in December 2017, about 2.6 million people were internally displaced, down from 3.1 million reported in the 2017 HRP. In December 2017, 1.9 million people were in need of food security assistance, down from 3.2 million in December 2016. The improvement in figures is attributed to the ending of combat operations against the Islamic State and the slow but steady return of displaced people to their home communities.

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