Fetching higher prices

Despite ban, Iranian tomatoes still enter Sulaymaniyah markets

SULAYMANIYAH — Despite a ban by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) on importing tomatoes from outside Iraq, aimed at supporting farmers in central and southern Iraq, Iranian tomatoes are still finding their way into Sulaymaniyah’s wholesale markets. Some vendors allege that these tomatoes are being smuggled in large quantities via unofficial routes.

The KRG implemented a ban on the import of tomato crops from abroad on Dec. 21, in alignment with Baghdad’s earlier decision to prohibit foreign imports to promote the sale of regional products.

Haji Sarwar Ali, head of the Agricultural Committee of the Sulaymaniyah Alawi Union for 964media, has reported that a significant amount of Iranian tomatoes are being smuggled into the Alawat marketplaces of Sulaymaniyah. He stressed the importance of stringent monitoring of smuggling routes to effectively uphold the import ban.

Currently, in Sulaymaniyah, the price for a kilogram of Iraqi tomatoes is set at 750 dinars, whereas Iranian tomatoes are being sold for 1,250 dinars per kilogram.

Shalaw Jamal, the Director of Agriculture in Sulaymaniyah for 964media, stated that, according to the Ministry of Agriculture’s decision, no Iranian tomatoes have officially entered Sulaymaniyah during the agricultural ban. “If any have entered, it is without our knowledge,” he noted.

Zana Ali, a local grocer speaking to 964media, mentioned that despite their higher prices, Iranian tomatoes are highly sought after for two primary reasons: the recent scarcity of Iraqi tomatoes in Sulaymaniyah markets, which deplete quickly and fail to satisfy local demand, and the inferior quality of Iraqi tomato boxes, which often contain a significant number of rotten or inedible tomatoes, leading to a waste of 20 to 30 percent of the product.