Local food supply meets demand in Anbar

Officials say local goods are offered at low prices competitive with imported goods. [Saad Shalash / Reuters]

Officials say local goods are offered at low prices competitive with imported goods. [Saad Shalash / Reuters]

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Agricultural production is meeting the increased demand for foodstuff in Anbar thanks to government efforts to support local farmers and manufacturers, provincial officials said Tuesday (August 9th).

"This year is witnessing a major rise in local foods, crops and vegetables. Local markets now largely depend on those products," said Sadoun Obeid al-Shalan, deputy chairman of the Anbar Provincial Council.

Al-Shalan told Mawtani that shoppers in the province's markets prefer to buy local products for several reasons, including product quality and availability.

"This change and higher demand for local products came after the local government provided all supplies that farmers need, in terms of seeds, vaccines and sprinklers," he said. "This is in addition to providing loans to factory owners to build food plants and provide products to the local market."

Ziad al-Ajeeli of the provincial council's investment committee said the local government has carried out more than 184 investment projects in the agriculture and livestock sectors since the beginning of 2010. Such projects include land reclamation, constructing poultry and livestock farms, and large hatcheries for fish and different birds.

"The increase of local products not only had a positive impact on the economic reality by providing items that the market needs, but also helped reduce unemployment," al-Ajeeli said. "Every project has employed a large number of engineering and technical teams and laborers in the province."

Anbar Provincial Council member Ibtesam Mohammed told Mawtani that citizens' desire to buy local products was the result of the economic culture Iraqis enjoy.

"Citizens want to support the local economy and are trying hard to meet all the needs of the Iraqi home from local products," she said. "This is in addition to the fact that local products are sold for affordable prices that compete against the prices of imported items."

Mohammed said the industrial sector in the province has also witnessed noticeable activity this year after various food production factories were opened, such as factories for tomato paste, oil, molasses, sesame paste, pickles, confections, pastas, and other products.

"In the next few years, and with continuous work and cooperation between the Anbar Provincial Council and government departments, Anbar will depend on local products for various foodstuffs and agricultural crops," she said.

Mazen Abbas, an engineer in the Anbar provincial agricultural directorate, said all local products are subject to health quality control by specialized committees that examine each product and follow up on the work of privately-owned plants to ensure they comply with control measures to protect citizens' safety.

"The entities concerned set the price of locally-made products and commodities in a way that is affordable to citizens," Abbas added.

"The government's and citizens' continued support of local products will largely contribute to building export projects in the future, after Iraqi markets get sufficient quantities of those products," he told Mawtani. "This will generate additional profit for the province and Iraq."