Iraqi Farmers To Receive Payments For 2016 Harvests, Ministry Says
The Iraqi Ministry of Agriculture announced on Thursday (April 13) Iraqi farmers are set to receive all of their dues for wheat harvests they provided to the Iraqi government in 2016.
The ministry issued a statement, which did not mention Kurdish farmers, giving notice to farmers to visit silos to receive 100 percent of their entitlements.
The Iraqi government earlier in April was expected to pay 1.400 trillion Iraqi dinars (IQD) to farmers throughout the country – 38 percent of which was allocated to the Kurdistan region – for 2016 harvests.
More than 200 billion was set aside for Kurdish farmers in the governorates of Duhok, Erbil and Sulaimani.
Although 200 billion IQD is to be provided, farmers in the Kurdistan Region are yet to receive the other 350 billion IQD owed for wheat harvests in 2016 and 312 billion IQD for wheat harvests in 2014 and 2015.
Farmers face heavy losses after the defeat of the Islamic State
The terror and mismanagement that characterized Islamic State’s (ISIS) two-year rule after seizing Iraq's agriculture heartland has devastated farmers and exacerbated the country's food security problem.
Sami Yuhanna was making a decent living as a wheat farmer until a jihadist put a gun to his head and declared his land in Iraq's Nineveh Governorate the property of ISIS.
Yuhanna, who used to sell about 100 tons of wheat per year, now lives in a small trailer and drives a taxi in the Kurdish capital of Erbil to barely survive. He is still haunted by the day armed militants arrived.
"We left everything behind, all our sheep and land, and ran away," he said.
Farmers fear the agriculture sector could take years to recover, with tractors missing, unexploded mines in the fields and farm compounds damaged by air strikes on the militants, who sold commodities like wheat to finance their operations.
Nineveh was Iraq's most productive farming region before the arrival of ISIS, producing around 1.5 million tons of wheat a year, or about 21 percent of Iraq's total wheat output, and 32 percent of barley.
An estimated 70 percent of farmers fled when ISIS took over, and those who stayed -- either to join the movement or out of fear -- faced heavy taxation.