Iraq Imports 3.56 Million Tonnes of Wheat
The trade ministry of Iraq has purchased 3.56 million tonnes of domestic wheat since the harvest season started in April. The agriculture ministry expects the output to reach 6 million tonnes this year. However, it will need to import 1 million tonnes of wheat this year to boost reserves over the growing concerns of the pandemic.
Low Domestic Wheat Production Due to Drought
US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has forecasted a dip in Iraq’s wheat output due to low rainfall. It projected the production to decline to 6 million tonnes from 6.6 million tonnes this year. Besides, the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak and subsequent restrictions on movement has limited farmers’ ability to cultivate their grains. Further, it estimates less than average yields per unit area of wheat and barley due to insufficient rainfall. However, an increase in the planted area may compensate for yield declines.
Consequently, wheat imports are expected to reach 2.7 million tonnes in 2020-21, marking a 17% increase. Also, USDA forecasts barley output to increase from 1.65 million tonnes in 2019-20 to 1.67 million tonnes in 2020-21. Moreover, food and feed consumption are to rise in the future due to the increasing population.
COVID-19 Impact and Iraq’s Food Security
The sharp decline in oil prices by reduced demand has put pressure on Iraq’s oil-based economy. Not only this, but restrictions on border movements due to the pandemic has increased transit times and transportation costs. However, Iraq is receiving well-distributed rainfall this year, giving a positive outlook for crop development. With this, the country estimates to have enough wheat stock reserves until autumn 2020. With the supply of wheat, oil, and sugar through the Public Distribution System, the government of Iraq has also started a new cash disbursement program, “Minha”.
In all, Iraq is working to maintain food security in the country amid the pandemic.