Rehabilitation work on five Iraqi factories that produce agricultural tractors, water pumps, and greenhouses is 75% complete, industry officials announced last week.
The factories, run by the Ministry of Industry and Minerals' State Company for Mechanical Industries (SCMI), were the only Iraqi entities that imported and assembled raw materials and spare parts for agricultural machinery before looting in 2003 forced them to stop production.
"The aim of the project is to restore the company to the important status it had before it was sabotaged," said Abdul Kadhum Abdullah, general manager of SCMI. "We hope we will enter into a partnership with global companies that specialize in producing agricultural machinery in order to cover the country's needs."
Company officials hope rehabilitation of the factories will finish by the middle of next year.
Mohammed al-Hili, head of the supplies department at SCMI, said the company has supplied Iraqi farmers with 1,000 of the 1,250 tractors the company received this year under a contract signed with the Netherlands' New Holland Company. The farmers bought the tractors with loans provided by the Agricultural Cooperative Bank of Iraq.
"Our company assembles 15 tractors a day, while the number of orders is about 700 tractors a day," al-Hili said. "Therefore, the company plans to renew its contract with the New Holland Company to supply our company with additional tractors to fill the shortage gap in its supply to farmers."
SCMI employee Zaidan Selman said a group of the company's factory workers submitted complaints to the Ministry of Industry and the Iraqi government demanding the rehabilitation of the factories.
"After the rehabilitation of its factories, SCMI will be one of the companies that can contribute to building a real national economy and an advanced national industry," Selman said. "At the same time, it will protect the rights and gains of workers and personnel of different professions and skills in an industry that our country needs."
SCMI was founded in 1968 and started producing agricultural tools in 1970. The company built a factory for assembling tractors in 1985, began making irrigation pumps in 1989, and introduced a line of irrigation sprinklers in 2001.
The company is among the first and largest companies that work in various engineering industries in Iraq.
"We expect that the revenues of these factories, when they operate again, will exceed 20 billion Iraqi dinars a year," said Moetaz al-Timimi, an employee in the company's administrative department. "This is a large amount, the benefit of which will be reflected on the economic reality of the ministry and Iraq in general."
Al-Tamimi said the company has a major impact on the agricultural sector in Iraq, given that it is the only company that assembles tractors in the country.
"The discontinuation of the company's production has led to decreased agricultural production in all areas across the country," he said.