The Iraqi government will use the financial surplus gained from the increase in oil revenues to immediately pay farmers who have sold wheat and barley to the government in 2011, according to a cabinet decision Wednesday (June 29th).
Farmers are normally paid according to a fixed schedule, but the cabinet decided to allocate 1 trillion dinars from the surplus to pay them now.
"This decision came about as part of the government's desire to support farmers by paying for the wheat and barley crops for this season on time and without delay," said official government spokesperson Minister of State Ali al-Dabbagh.
In a statement released last week, he said the goal of the decision is to enable farmers to meet their financial commitments.
"These amounts are considered a mechanism to keep and maintain this sector, resolving all the obstacles that may delay it, and to boost and develop it to raise and push production forward," al-Dabbagh said.
In May, the Iraqi parliament voted unanimously on a bill to raise the price the government pays for agricultural crops, with the aim of strengthening agricultural production in Iraq.
The new price scale sets the price of shelleb rice at 1 million dinars per ton, wheat at 900,000 dinars per ton, barley at 700,000 dinars per ton and dates at 550,000 dinars per ton.
Ahmed Kareem, a member of the Iraqi parliament's committee on agriculture and waters, praised the decision to use the surplus revenue to pay farmers.
"It is a decision that shows patronage to the farmers and concern and attention for the agricultural sector," he told Mawtani.
Kareem also called on the Iraqi government to "develop the agriculture sector and make decisions that serve and encourage farmers".
"If such support continues, much will be achieved that will surpass the country's needs, and we will surpass the level of self-sufficiency to that of exporting," he said.
Kareem al-Tamimi, spokesperson for the Ministry of Agriculture, also voiced his support for the decision.
"The decision to make the new allocation is very important and will have a profound effect on the state of agriculture by encouraging farmers to increase their investments in the land," he told Mawtani.
Al-Tamimi cited the government's programs to provide seeds, fertilizers and pesticides to farmers as evidence of its commitment to developing Iraqi agriculture.
He also said that his ministry has other ambitious plans to improve agriculture in Iraq, including signing contracts with well-known foreign companies to introduce modern irrigation systems.
"Numbers received by the ministries of planning and trade confirm that during this season, the marketed crops reached one and a half million tons, in addition to what the farmers usually keep as seeds, which confirms that agriculture is making good strides in comparison with previous seasons," al-Tamimi said.