US and Australia to help rebuild Iraq's farm sector
The United States and Australia will jointly help rebuild agricultural production, the food delivery system and the agriculture ministry in Iraq, says JB Penn, US under secretary of agriculture for farm and foreign services.
“Getting more oil flowing to power flour mills and pump irrigation water is one of agriculture's immediate needs,” said Department of Agriculture's newly named senior ministry advisor, Dan Amstutz. Harvesting summer cereals in May and June and planting rice in irrigated land are additional short-term concerns, he said.
There is enough wheat in Iraq being distributed by the UN World Food Program (WFP) or ready to be shipped to last until fall, Amstutz said. The United States has provided nearly 600,000 metric tons of food aid to the WFP for Iraq.
The official said that within two to three years, weather permitting, Iraq can begin to see greater agricultural productivity, reported the Washington File. The Iraq agriculture ministry has proposed establishing a poultry industry to add to the country's protein supply and will receive support for the project from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Amstutz said.
Iraq historically is a rich agricultural area, but in recent years agriculture has deteriorated from a lack of machinery, little maintenance of irrigation systems, soil salinity and animal health problems, among other factors, Amstutz said.
Only half of the country's three million hectares of irrigable land is being irrigated, he said. The centrally planned agricultural system also lacked incentives for farmers to increase production, he added. — (menareport.com)
© 2003 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)
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