US: Oil-for-food purchases to continue until local administration established
Ensuring a continuous flow of food to the Iraqi people and rebuilding Iraq's agricultural sector are the main objectives of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) in the country, department officials told the official Washington File.
Purchasing agreements under the oil-for-food program will continue until relevant authority can be transferred to a local administration, J.B. Penn, US undersecretary for farm and foreign agricultural services told reporters on June 16, 2003, in Washington.
Another task is to rebuild the country's Agriculture Ministry and develop a market-based policy for the sector, he said. The United States is coordinating Iraq's agricultural reconstruction with its coalition partners—primarily Australia—and international organizations, he added.
Another official, Dan Amstutz, senior ministry advisor for agriculture, said he would leave for Bagdad via Kuwait June 17 to assess Iraq's agricultural needs. He said that USDA representative, Lee Schatz, is in Iraq identifying people from the country's Agriculture Ministry with which coalition partners could work.
This "management team" already has facilitated the harvest of wheat and barley, Amstutz said. Amstutz, making his second trip to Iraq, said he hopes that eventually a farm cooperative movement could be started in Iraq.
Assessing the current situation, Penn said that because of the coalition's pre-positioning of food aid before and during hostilities, "ample" supplies of food commodities are in Iraq to cover the country's basic food needs until September or October.
He added that USDA is trying to determine if Iraq has any regulations that would prohibit the import of foods derived from biotechnology. — (menareport.com)
© 2003 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)