The State Company for Southern Fertilizer Manufacturing is seeking to modernize and repair its production lines in Basra province to increase production and keep pace with the growing needs of Iraqi farmers.
Company officials hope that production will reach 130% of the company's current factory capacity in the next five years.
"The company is working very hard to reach the design capacity as a first stage. After that, it will try to reach 130% of the production capacity to provide the best services for Iraqi farmers," said Mahdi Salim Abdul Hasan, director general of the State Company for Southern Fertilizer Manufacturing.
He said the company was using a $160 million loan from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to sign a contract with Italy's SAIPEM to provide modern machines and equipment to be used in production lines, and to buy spare parts for the existing machines in the company's factories.
"The company's work is very important both internally and externally," said Mustafa Kata, manager of the company's media office. He said the company's fertilizers are considered among the "best quality fertilizers in the entire world".
"They are sold to Iraqi farmers at subsidized prices. In the past, we used to export to a number of countries. The thing that impedes us from returning to production is the old age of the factory and insufficient electricity," he said. "However, there is a plan to overcome these obstacles by benefiting from the Japanese loan."
The State Company for Southern Fertilizer Manufacturing was founded in the 1970s as a part of a project to develop the Iraqi Ministry of Industry and Mineral's chemical and petrochemical industry sector.
Today, the company is the main supplier of agricultural fertilizers for the Ministry of Agriculture.
"The importance of local fertilizers is not just restricted to agriculture, it also includes other aspects, such as operating factories and departments specialized in this field," said farmer Ziad Tariq. "This makes it an important factor in overcoming unemployment."
Tariq also said that farmers prefer local fertilizers and "always look for fertilizers that generate revenues commensurate with the great efforts they exert in agriculture".
Hamed al-Jumaili, 52, a farmer residing in Diyala province, said Iraqi farmers have depended on local fertilizer since the early1980s since local fertilizers "are considered among the best quality".
"Low production of local fertilizers allowed imported fertilizers to enter the Iraqi market easily, especially as farmers need fertilizers in the production of their crops," he said. "Yet, farmers still desire local fertilizers."
Jassim Khudhair, 48, a farmer residing in Baghdad, said Iraqi farmers would stop using imported fertilizers if local production of fertilizers increases.
"We hope that the Iraqi government will turn chemical fertilizers factories to ones producing organic fertilizers to avoid any effects on soil," he said.