May 10, 2010


Iraq winter wheat harvest to double



Iraqi wheat production may double this year as a drought eases, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).


Rains have been better than the last two years, that were very poor, Mario Zappacosta, an economist at the Rome-based FAO, said.


Iraq's wheat production will be about two million tonnes this year, Zappacosta said, citing figures to be published in the organisation's next report on crop prospects. The country's wheat output was about one million tonnes last year, compared with an average of 2.5 million tonnes from 2000-07.


Iraq had its worst harvest in a decade last year and will import a record 3.8 million tonnes of wheat in the 12 months through June, according to the USDA, at a cost of about US$1.4 billion. Iraq is among the world's biggest wheat importers, purchasing mostly from Canada, the US and Russia.


The poor harvests came after rainfall fell at least 75% from normal levels and the volume of water in rivers coming from Turkey and Syria declined, according to USDA. High salinity was also a factor, and farmers cut their level of planting by as much as 50%, according to the FAO.