Fastest-growing sector

Iraq’s agricultural sector witnesses growth despite water scarcity

BAGHDAD, January 8 — The Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Mehdi Sahar Al-Jubouri, stated that the agricultural sector achieved a growth rate of 27% in 2023, ranking first in the growth rate among Iraq’s economic sectors. He confirmed that the reason for the growth, despite water scarcity, is the adoption of modern irrigation systems. The government covered approximately 500,000 acres with modern sprinklers in 2023.

Al-Jubouri in an interview, said:

Iraq’s agricultural land spans 48 million dunums, with only 26 percent (13 million dunums) being utilized effectively due to water scarcity affecting the agricultural plan.

Two years ago, irrigated areas were 5 million dunums, reduced to 2.5 million in 2022 and further to 1.5 million this year.

Modern irrigation systems contributed to a 50 percent increase in agricultural production, making it the highest-growing sector at 29%, according to the Central Bank of Iraq’s economic report.

The government invested in modern irrigation, covering 500,000 dunums in 2023 and allocating 250 billion dinars annually for the coming years. This aims to cover approximately 1.5 million dunums by 2025. The government supports farmers by providing a 30% subsidy for purchasing modern irrigation systems with a 10-year repayment period. Lottery systems were initially used to distribute support, but now all eligible applications receive modern irrigation systems.

In terms of exports, Iraq consistently exports potatoes, eggplants, and fodder, with dates facing periodic export challenges.

Al-Sudani’s government allowed fertilizer imports for the private sector, which led to a reduction in their prices for farmers from 1,200,000 dinars per ton to 650,000 dinars.

Notably, Iraq has not granted import permits for dates since 2003, and all available in the market are smuggled.