Shatha Khalil *
Developed countries are working to protect their cultivation, to secure their farms from internal and external damage, and to allow farmers to obtain insurance coverage against harming their agricultural products in all stages of agriculture until harvest, packaging and directing the allocations of agriculture in the state budget for the benefit of subsidies to support insurance with the existence of a plan to reduce agricultural terrorism with the participation of relevant ministries and professional bodies.
The agricultural sector in Iraq is in its worst stages after 2003, due to the governmental neglect of this important vital sector, which is an element of the advancement of the economy of any country. The reasons for the decline in the agricultural reality are due to the decisions of the civil administrator in Iraq after 2003 Paul Bremer, and water crisis, high levels of salinity and desertification, and then the migration of peasants to their lands because of poverty and unemployment, all of which led to a decline in agricultural production and then the deterioration of the sector in general.
The situation of Iraq’s agriculture is miserable, precarious and dangerous, and requires government agencies to pay attention to the seriousness and accelerate the study of it in a scientific, accurate way, and identify the reasons that led to this deterioration, and to develop effective solutions to recover and get it to safety.
Agriculture is an important element in the advancement of the Iraqi economy, which is suffering from recession. The economy is concentrated in agriculture, industry and trade, in addition to other aspects. But the reality was not as it was supposed to be but the Iraqi economy is unilateral trend and relied mainly on oil and other elements were neglected .
One of the reasons for the deterioration of domestic production, the dependence on the import of almost everything from abroad, even what Iraq boasts of its production in the past such as dates.
I t has not been activated to advance the economy. The agricultural reality has entered the narrow mazes and delusions due to the complex conditions that Iraq was going through and made it in a dark corner, and turned on the impact of that from a productive country to an importer of all agricultural products, which weighs heavily on the Iraqi economy, it makes the situation based on this framework, and the Government must provide the possibilities that contribute to the advancement of agriculture.
In this modest study, we will attempt to shed light on the causes that have led to the deterioration of agriculture on the one hand, and the means and solutions that can restore agriculture and promote it and provide food to the people on the other hand.
Reasons for the deterioration of agriculture in Iraq:
It is necessary to pay attention to all things that will have an effective impact in order to improve the agricultural reality, extract it from its miserable situation and achieve positive results in the current situation. The following are the most important reasons for the backwardness of the agricultural situation in Iraq:
– Levelling the state’s agricultural land and trying to sell it as residential plots, as happened a year ago in the vicinity of the Dora area in Baghdad, burning and cutting hundreds of trees by vandals.
-The dependence of the Iraqi economy on oil as the sole source of wealth, which is an immediate and not a strategic option, and the neglect of other sectors, including the agricultural sector.
– Water scarcity and the state of desertification generated in large areas of land as a result of the climate, weather conditions and global warming that contributed to the lack of rainfall.
-The negative policy practiced by the neighboring countries from which the water of the Iraqi rivers flow and the countries through which these rivers pass to reach the Iraqi territory, which has a significant impact on the amount of water reaching Iraq.
-The reluctance of the Iraqi farmer to agriculture and his search for other occupations more comfortable and transformation from producer to consumer of agricultural crops, and this trend was the result of many reasons not borne by the farmer alone, but borne by many parties.
– Lack of modern agricultural mechanization that supports the farmer in the reclamation of agricultural land and rely on the old and primitive methods in some cases, which affects the size of the productive yield of the land and its quality.
Not to provide modern chemical fertilizers by the state for the farmer, and if available, they are given at high prices are not supported.
– Lack of good seeds for farmers, which contribute in a smooth way to raise the productivity of agricultural crops in quantity and quality.
– Convert more agricultural land into residential homes, resulting in a shortage of arable land, with no government oversight of such action, and no deterrent measures to prevent it.
– Not to embrace the state of the peasant, and not to care for him and to provide real support for him correctly, and not to listen to his views, which caused the disruption of the work of agricultural associations, which has become a mere relationship with little action.
-Lack of financial allocations from the central government and local governments to support the agricultural sector in all its details.
– The apparent neglect of agricultural reality in general made Iraq a market for agricultural crops imported from neighboring countries, and make Iraq a consumer and not a producer, despite the availability of all components to be self-sufficient in this area and a source of agricultural crops.
-Non-protection of local agricultural products from competing with imported ones from neighboring countries and other countries, which made most farmers leave the agricultural profession because of this competition, which they can not keep up.
The weakness of agricultural engineering staff in agricultural divisions and field extension workers in most governorates, which negatively affects the entire agricultural production process.
– The incompatibility of existing laws, especially land laws with agricultural development, in particular the laws of property and law (177) and the law of leasing.
– Non-activation of the law on the protection of agricultural production at the present time, and most specialists in this area see that it is necessary to activate it as soon as possible due to the urgent need for it for the advancement of the agricultural sector.
– Lack of necessary services for many villages, where the services are provided by the municipal councils and civil society organizations focused on some villages without others, and according to favoritism and side relations.
– Lack of regular drainage networks that help to reclaim lands and reduce salinity, and rely on old networks that do not keep pace with scientific development in this area.
-The use of the old methods of irrigation for the orchards and fields, which led to salinity of the soil and insufficient water.
-Administrative corruption rampant in most facilities of state institutions and agricultural departments, which hinders the process of promoting the agricultural sector.
-The high prices of fuel and transportation costs of agricultural products from farmers to wholesale markets, which causes high prices of agricultural crops, and here the impact will be of two sides as a result of competition between domestic and imported products in wholesale markets in favor of the latter, as a result of high prices, and the Iraqi farmer is the loser in this competition, and a new price will be added to the consumer who bears the price difference due to rising fuel prices.
Economists emphasize that the advancement of agricultural reality requires exceptional efforts by the government, and bold decisions that protect the farms and agricultural land of Iraq from the threat of agricultural terrorism, and must take real and serious steps to provide all means to promote the agricultural sector, because agriculture is an important pillar of the Iraqi economy that can not be underestimated or minimizing its importance.
Iraq is the largest importer in the region:
In the absence of complete industry and local production, which was the country’s former quality, Iraq has become one of the largest importers of neighboring countries, especially Iran and then Turkey, where Iraq ranked fourth among the most importing countries from Turkey.
The Turkish Statistics Agency said that Iraq ranked fourth in terms of Turkish exports during the month of the last October, which amounted to 852 million dollars.
Iraq depends in most of its imports of goods and commodities on the neighboring countries, especially Iran and Turkey, and a lower rate on Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Kuwait.
The Iranian Financial Times reported that the volume of exports of Iranian products to Iraq increased by 67% during the last period of the current Iranian year (21 March to 21 November) compared to last year.
The statistics of foreign trade of non-oil exports showed that Iraq ranked first for the second month in a row, and that Iran exported a total of (14.216) million tons of goods to Iraq last year, worth about (6.767) billion dollars indicating a significant rise in value and weight ,and in eight months of the current calendar year, Iran exported 8.556 million tons worth 5.056 billion dollars, indicating an increase of about 67 percent in terms of weight and value, respectively, compared to last year.
Iran has penetrated Iraq’s vital joints after 2003, and has begun planning to control the various Iraqi wealth, and is exporting to the country gas and electricity and various agricultural and industrial products, despite the enormous wealth and surplus that Iraq possesses of these materials.
Strategy for the promotion and elimination of agricultural terrorism:
Agriculture has an important role in supporting the Iraqi economy, reducing the phenomenon of imports, and reducing the rampant unemployment in society, especially among the workers in the agricultural sector, and we believe that one of the most important elements of the advancement of agricultural reality, and the most important actions to be taken by the government are as follows ,
-The Ministry of Agriculture and the Iraqi government have the responsibility to protect agricultural products, especially in the harvest season, not to open border crossings during the season, which causes heavy losses to the peasant first and the Iraqi economy, and what makes the Iraqi farmer leaves agriculture and thus the sector deteriorates and this is called “agricultural terrorism ” and must be eliminated and to provide material and moral support, and to protect and encourage local agricultural crops.
– Development of comprehensive strategic plans to improve the agricultural reality in Iraq, which is primarily the responsibility of ministries of planning, agriculture and water resources and in cooperation with local governments.
-Conducting a comprehensive field survey of all agricultural lands, determining their suitability for agriculture, and identifying the areas to be repaired, for the purpose of developing scientific plans to properly upgrade them and raise their productivity.
– Pay attention to strategic agricultural crops such as wheat, rice, corn, sugarcane and other important crops, giving priority to them, and take care of palm trees and increase their numbers because of the abundance of its products and contribution to provide a clean and beautiful environment at the same time, and work to buy these crops with subsidized prices by the state to ensure permanence of the work of the farmer, and ensure that the needs of the Iraqi consumer are met .
– Activate the role of graduates of agricultural engineering and the introduction of modern technology in a wide range in all agricultural fields, and the introduction of modern agricultural mechanization to provide effort and manpower and time, in addition to ensure the quality of agricultural produce and increase quantity.
– Work seriously and responsibly in solving all problems related to water resources with neighboring countries, whether through bilateral agreements or through international conventions and the United Nations, and this requires urgent efforts, especially at the diplomatic level.
– Introducing modern water use programs in agriculture, through modern punctuation, which preserves the waste of water, and ensures proper delivery of water to cultivated plants.
– The establishment of some dams and modern irrigation projects in order to store water and not make it water lost because it represents the sustainability of agriculture.
– Expedite the resolution of all problems related to expropriation of disputed agricultural lands by the Iraqi judiciary and the expropriation Authority.
– The government’s efforts to provide and support grain and chemical fertilizers of good quality, and all that the farmer needs to reclaim land and increase its productivity.
– Supporting agricultural associations in real terms and opening the way for them to take their required role in embracing the peasant and his care and attracting all the peasants who left their profession and turned to other professions.
-The enactment of laws and legislations that guarantee the protection of local agricultural products from competition with other countries by imposing customs duties and applying the global quota system to encourage the Iraqi farmers to increase production. The crops that are not available in the country can be excluded or their production is not sufficient.
– Development of a strategic agricultural atlas after a complete survey of agricultural land and identify the actual needs of agricultural crops, and directing farmers to agriculture according to planned plans rather than qualitative and random way .
– Providing basic services in a fair manner between the villages to make the peasant and farmer adhere to his land without abandoning them due to lack of these services.
– Provide facilities for agricultural advances, and form a committee to follow up, for the purpose of directing the farmer about the projects that can be used, and according to each region and according to the actual need.
– Attract local and foreign investment projects for the agricultural sector, especially in the field of land reclamation to increase the area of arable land.
– Establish research centers specializing in the use of advanced technologies in agriculture, such as the use of genetic engineering and genetic modification of some crops to help develop and improve agricultural crops.
– Allocate additional budget to strengthen research in favor of updating and refurbishing laboratories in all units of the Ministry, to enable the establishment of professional, scientific and technological infrastructure, which will enable to continue to lead research in the country.
These solutions and procedures, if taken by the governmental institutions concerned in the field of agriculture, and if attention is paid to this sector and in a planned and thoughtful manner , it could be possible to promote this vital sector to provide our people with the desired food security , and to provide jobs that contribute to the large elimination of the crisis of unemployment rampant in Iraq, especially in rural areas, in addition to providing a strong tributary of the tributaries of the Iraqi economy, which makes Iraq a source of agricultural crops, and the country could be transformed from an importer of agricultural crops to a producer , and to achieve self-sufficiency in a few years.
Economic Studies Unit
Rawabet Center for Research and Strategic Studies