November 17, 2008
More than 4,000 tones of feed barley was purchased from Romania and delivered to Kirkuk Province within the first 2 weeks of November. The emergency feed grain program was a joint effort between the Kirkuk Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT), Coalition forces and local agricultural leaders.
Due to a summer drought, which severely cut wheat and barley production, more than 1 million sheep in Kirkuk are without feed. The barley, which cost US$1.3 million dollars, will give livestock owners a better opportunity to maintain their herds.
This economic loss for livestock owners, due to the drought, is being reported by at approximately 250 million dollars, said John M. Schnittker, a PRT agricultural advisor. Because of the financial concerns, local Kirkuk sheep herders are forced to sell their sheep at extremely low prices, because they simply can't feed them.
The purpose to obtain the feed from Romania is to mitigate economic impact, maintain herd viability, improve the health of the herds and provide an alternative until pastures develop later this year.
The barley purchase is a US effort to help, not to solve, the problem, Schnittker said.
He added that this barley is a short-term effort to feed livestock in anticipation that conditions will get better and that livestock will have pastures to feed on this winter.
The grain will help the livestock owners get through this hard time, breed their sheep and keep their herds intact, said Schnittker.