Reference Date: 10-November-2014
FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT
Uncertain prospects for 2014/15 cropping season mainly due to conflict in parts, including major producing areas
Ninevah and Salah-Aldeen governorates, at the centre of the current conflict, together produce nearly one-third and about 38 percent of total annual national wheat and barley production, respectively
Loss of assets and income opportunities from farming together with disruptions in marketing activities and related logistics, have exposed large number of people to severe food insecurity; increasing number of IDPs is also putting huge pressure on host communities
Uncertain prospects for 2014/15 cropping season that is about to start
In Iraq, planting of 2015 winter crops is currently underway. Although normal weather conditions prevailed so far, the 2014/15 winter cropping is expected to be affected by the ongoing conflict in Northern parts of the country. Large number of farmers has fled their fields particularly in Ninevah and Salah-Aldeen governorates which together produce approximately one-third of total annual national wheat and barley production, respectively. Displacements of people would also deprive farmers from accessing their land.
Good production in 2013/14 but supply jeopardized by conflict
Prior to the current escalation of the conflict, an above-average 2013/14 wheat harvest of 3 million tonnes, some 16 percent above the five‑year average, was forecasted by FAO. The barley forecast, at 900 000 tonnes, was similar to the previous year but 15 percent above the five‑year average. Although the final estimates of the 2014 harvest are not yet available, Government reports indicate that the Iraqi Grain Board managed to buy some 3.4 million tonnes of wheat from farmers (the Board buys wheat at subsidized prices of about USD 480 per tonne). This indicates that the production this year was better than forecasted.
However, the delivery of the wheat crop to the silos coincided, from the second week of June, with the escalation of conflict and large areas, especially the provinces of Ninevah and Salah-Aldeen, being controlled by so-called “Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)” fighters. A number of grain board silos are located in these areas and were reported to have fallen with the stocks of grain. The Iraqi Ministry of Trade (MoT) reports indicate that in Ninevah alone, there are eight silos controlled by “ISIL” fighters which in early June 2014 had 180 000 tonnes of wheat stored. About 70 000 tonnes of wheat from Ninevah were delivered to MoT silos in Dohuk Governorate together with 10 000 tonnes of seeds to the Iraqi Seed Company. In Salah-Aldeen Governorate, out of seven silos, five are located in areas controlled by “ISIL” fighters with a storage capacity of 390 000 tonnes. Up to mid‑August 2014, a total of 462 000 tonnes of wheat was reported to have been delivered in Salah-Aldeen Governorate.
Related reports indicate that most farmers in Ninevah and Salah-Aldeen provinces did not yet receive payment for the wheat delivered, creating cash flow problems for farmers in the upcoming cropping season.
Cereal import requirements expected to increase in 2014/15 despite earlier average forecasts
The Government of Iraq normally maintains three to six months’ supply of wheat in its food stocks and is committed to supply each Iraqi citizen with a monthly 9 kg of subsidized flour. Iraqi traders often seek higher quality wheat with more protein and gluten for blending rather than the cheapest origins.
In the 2013/14 marketing year (July/June), cereal import levels were estimated at 4.26 million tonnes, including 2.7 million tonnes of wheat and 1.3 million tonnes of rice. Cereal import requirements in the current 2014/15 marketing year (July/June) are expected to increase, reflecting conflict-related challenges to production, storage and other logistical arrangements. At the moment, 17 percent of the 3.4 million tonnes purchased by the Government in 2014 are located in silos in the areas of Nineveh and Salah-Aldeen governorates controlled by “ISIL” fighters.
Food prices were generally stable but disruptions of markets, cross border trade and restricted movement of food commodities are a concern
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). In August 2014, the General Consumer Price Index stood at 146.9 points, the same as in the previous month but 3.5 percent up on August 2013. The food inflation rate increased by 2.6 percent on a monthly basis and 3.2 percent on a yearly basis. Cereal prices remain generally stable compared to a month earlier.
Food security conditions are expected to continue deteriorating
There are now an estimated 2.8 million people displaced within Iraq, nearly 1.8 million of whom have been displaced since January 2014, including an estimated 500 000 people displaced from Mosul City and surrounding areas and a further 480 000 who have fled fighting in Anbar Governorate since the beginning of the year. Many of these people have been repeatedly displaced. At the moment, there are reports of deteriorating access to drinking water as well as basic food items and other essential non-food items. Food security conditions are likely to deteriorate with large number of IDPs putting strain on hosting communities, in particular as a large share of IDPs have fled towards cities in the Kurdish region of Iraq.
Reports indicate that in the most affected governorates of Ninevah and Salah-Aldeen, the Public Distribution System is compromised and food might not be available to the most vulnerable. Lack of resources limit the coping capacities available to households and limit access to food.
Farmers and rural households have been heavily affected by the current conflict. Some farmers have to sell their livestock at lower prices, either for generating fast cash or because of their inability to afford fodder and vaccination for their cattle. FAO is currently targeting a total of 225 000 people in Iraq for emergency agriculture and livelihood support and additional 234 000 people are planned to be reached in the near future, depending on the availability of funds.
Large number of Syrian refugees still registered in Iraq
As of end of October 2014, almost 224 000 Syrian refugees were registered in Iraq. Most of the Syrian refugees have settled in the northern governorates of Iraq’s Kurdistan Region. The World Food Programme (WFP) Emergency Operation (EMOP) continues to provide food assistance to vulnerable Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Turkey. In Iraq should reach about 186 000 beneficiaries with voucher assistance, food packages and school feeding.