Local directorate responds to storage needs

Najaf sees record wheat harvest as farmers expand cultivation to desert areas

NAJAF — Najaf farmers are celebrating an above-average wheat harvest this year, fueled by ample rainfall. The bounty has prompted a significant expansion of wheat planting into desert areas, with acreage rising from 4,942 last year to roughly 28,911 in 2024.

The harvest season recently began in Haidariya, Al-Mishkhab, Kufa, and Abbasiya with farmers already delivering wheat to four designated collection centers in Munadhera, Kufa, Ufuqi, and Khoranq. According to the Najaf Agriculture Directorate website, over a third of the estimated 83,681-acre planting area for this year has been harvested already.

The Iraqi government is incentivizing wheat production by offering a purchase price of 850,000 Iraqi dinars ($649) per ton, exceeding the market rate of 750,000 dinars ($572).

“We have four collection centers, but they are insufficient to handle the increased volume,” said Munim Al-Fatlawi, head of the Najaf Agriculture Directorate. “We’re implementing solutions to accommodate more, like transporting some wheat to other cities and using public spaces for storage.”

Nationally, Iraqi authorities project a wheat harvest exceeding seven million tons, up from five million tons in 2023. This increase includes production from the Kurdistan Region.

“Planted areas, both within and outside the official agricultural plan, surpassed [82,544 acres], yielding an estimated 650,000 tons thanks to favorable rainfall,” said Hakim Al-Khazraji, deputy director of agriculture.

To maximize yields in desert areas, farmers are acquiring pivot irrigation systems, which are efficient in water-scarce environments. These systems will be used on the newly identified 28,911 acres of desert farmland.

Reception centers are operating around the clock to receive crops from farmers and process same-day payments, according to Al-Khazraji.

However, challenges remain. Najaf farmer Hussein Majid noted, “Despite the challenges of water scarcity and high fertilizer prices, I cultivated [five acres] using well water and rainfall.”

“I opted for private buyers instead of government silos due to long queues and transportation expenses,” he added.

Iraq anticipates wheat harvests of more than seven million tons this year

Iraq anticipates wheat harvests of more than seven million tons this year

Iraq's Ministry of Trade begins procurement of wheat

Iraq's Ministry of Trade begins procurement of wheat