Iraqi farmers exempted from regular power outage schedule

A farmer sows cucumber seeds at his farm in Basra province. [Stringer Iraq/Reuters]

A farmer sows cucumber seeds at his farm in Basra province. [Stringer Iraq/Reuters]

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The Iraqi Ministry of Agriculture has reached agreement with the Ministry of Electricity to exempt Iraqi farmers and their farms from the regular electrical power outage schedule, officials said Thursday (December 8th).

Farms will now be supplied with 12 hours of continuous electricity a day beginning from 8 pm to 8 am during agricultural seasons to operate their irrigation pumps. For the remaining 12 hours, the farms will be without power.

"The objective behind this step is to secure farmers with the electric power they need to operate their water pumps and irrigate their plants in order to increase the country's production of agricultural products, particularly the strategic crops of wheat and barley," said Mahdi Dhamad al-Qaisi, senior deputy minister of agriculture.

Al-Qaisi told Mawtani that the Ministry of Agriculture is always working to provide the means to help develop the agricultural sector in Iraq. He said the ministry sold 1,550 advanced irrigation systems to farmers at a discount of 50 percent "to encourage them to employ modern irrigation systems and abandon the traditional ways that cause waste in water and increase the salinity of agricultural land".

He also said the ministry continually supports the water users associations, which seek to increase awareness among farmers and guide them toward using correct irrigation techniques, which help conserve water, decrease waste, and meet the specific requirements for each crop. The ministry also supports the continuation of the loans programs for farmers willing to drill wells.

Ministry of Electricity spokesperson Mussab al-Mudarres told Mawtani, "Our ministry's agreement to exempt farmers from the electric power outage schedule was part of the ministry's support of the national effort to double the local agricultural production to achieve a state of self sufficiency in all crops."

Al-Mudarres said the ministry, through the joint committee set up with the Ministry of Agriculture, is working on setting up a comprehensive database to determine the appropriate power schedule according to agricultural acreage and type of crop being grown.

"We hope to increase the supply period to over 18 hours when our production of electricity improves," he said.

Shaalan al-Kareem, member of the Iraqi parliament's agriculture committee, praised the efforts aimed at meeting farmers' needs for energy.

"Exempting farmers from the electricity cut off schedules is definitely an important step which will have positive returns that serve the state of agriculture in the country," he said.

"What we also wish to happen in this context is to supply farmers with ample quantities of fuel at subsidized prices to enable them to operate their irrigation pumps, fed by power coming from the power generators they have, because many agricultural farms are located in remote areas and are not served by the national electricity network."

A number of Iraqi farmers welcomed the new government plan.

"The problem of power shortages and frequent shut downs affect our work greatly. Without electric power, we cannot draw water from the wells or the drainage to irrigate our crops," said Khider Hameed, 43, a farmer in Baghdad.

"But with the availability of electricity, we shall overcome this problem and we will not have to use our electricity generators for long periods, which would result in additional costs for fuel and maintenance work."

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  • READER COMMENTS

    حاتم فراس

    2012-1-20

    The agriculture sector in Iraq still needs further work to develop once again and to restore its former condition. Although Iraq is one of the agricultural countries, many factors have contributed to causing the decline of agriculture. Thus, we notice that there is a price increase on all kinds of fruits and vegetables in the local markets. Indeed, this increase will of course have an impact on the Iraqi families, which need these items on their tables every day. Thus, the factors that helped the increase of the prices of fruit and vegetables resulted from the farmers’ suffering from a lot of problems. The latter have caused a lot of farmers to give up their profession and leave the rural areas to live in the city and look for other jobs. Added to the reasons for this migration, which has affected the increase in prices of fruits and vegetables, we can add the decrease of the water levels and the lack of rainfall.

  • حسين صابر

    2012-1-8

    There is a significant increase in the prices of fruits and vegetables. However, we don’t know the reason behind this increase. Thus, citizens have been suffering from these problems because they have been unable to provide money and food for their families. This is in addition to the lack of job opportunities and low salaries. That’s why the citizens have been deprived of fruits and vegetables, due to their high prices. Believe me, we have stopped buying fruits, due to their high prices. Thus, we ask the government to supply this aspect and to control it through resuming agricultural activities and avoid depending on importation. It must also subsidize prices and control the prices of fruits and vegetables. This is in order to prevent the shop owners from cheating, because the citizens have been the victims of this difficult and tragic life.

  • حسيب علي

    2012-1-3

    I would like to talk about the problems of farmers and peasants in general and the situation of villages and rural areas in Iraq. The situation that we live in is disastrous; we do not have the chance to go to the city to live there, because we were born and grew up on this land, so it is our life and it is our source of livelihood and the sustenance of our children in the future. The farmers suffer from several problems and shortages that stop the wheel of agriculture in our country and its progress. The status of agriculture and the disaster of the farmers increase day by day. The simplest need of agriculture to succeed is water to irrigate the land; yet we do not get enough water to preserve the harvest and the crops. We have been asking for enough shares of water to irrigate the agricultural lands to no avail. There is another problem, which is the lack of support for the agricultural sector from the government, which does not do much. They leave everything for the farmer to handle.

  • ابو خالد

    2011-12-30

    Of course, the high prices of vegetables and fruits are expected and logical, because Iraq does not produce these agricultural products. It depends on importation to provide these important products; most of the imports come from Syria. The situation in Syria is not stable; this is why the importation processes are a lot slower. Based on the law of supply and demand, the prices are increasing drastically because the available supply of vegetables and fruits is low, while the demand of consumers is high. This shows the huge defect and failure of the Iraqi government to support the economy and provide the products needed in the Iraqi market. Accordingly, the only one who loses in this situation is the Iraqi citizen, who is now hesitant and unable to buy fruits for his children, because he cannot afford to buy them for his family. I hope the government will apply supervision to the prices; there has to be a follow-up on what the market needs. The government should provide those needs, to keep the prices of such important food products for the Iraqis reasonable. At the same time, I wish the Ministry of Agriculture would move quickly and earnestly to help the Iraqi farmers and encourage them to plant their lands and grow the important crops for the market, such as vegetables and fruits. We have to facilitate everything for the farmers and give them the complete support so they can resume agriculture, so that Iraq becomes a country that produces most of its crops once again. That is enough; we have wasted a lot of money already in paying for importation from the outside to buy foodstuffs.

  • فارس عبادة

    2011-12-30

    The government has no conscience and they do not think of the people at all. Do the Prime Minister, the ministers and the entourage, i.e. government staff know that the Iraqi citizen is living under the hardest economic conditions? Of course, they do not know the reality of the simple Iraqis and what they suffer, because they are living a luxurious, rich life. They have everything delivered to their houses, or more precisely their great palaces, without feeling the suffering of the poor, who must strive to get bread. The prices have increased recently in an unbelievable way. This is why we stopped buying many products, fruits and vegetables, because most of the Iraqi people are below the poverty line. Is this the equality and fairness which the government promised us it would achieve, along with solving the problems in services, providing job opportunities, providing agricultural products and making them available in markets for reasonable prices that everybody can afford? O our Lord, to You alone we complain, and we seek Your help to endure the great difficulties we are experiencing in Iraq.

  • زهيد علي

    2011-12-29

    Electricity constitutes a heavy burden on Iraqis, especially since there is no solution to this big problem. In fact, we don’t know the reason behind this. Thus, the government and the Ministry of Electricity must provide electric power for the citizens. In fact, Iraqis are no longer able to endure this big problem, and they have become tired of complaining. Thus, it is important to provide electricity in all the Iraqi provinces and regions. However, this has not been achieved by the government, the Ministry or any other authority. That’s why it is necessary to work on providing electricity for Iraqis as quickly as possible, and especially before the coming of summer. The government must work on solving this problem, because this is among its priorities and responsibilities. In fact, electricity was supposed to have been provided in Iraq many years ago. However, this has not been achieved, due to the stealing and looting operations. This is in addition to the forged contracts. That’s why it is important to replace those who have worked on stealing the country’s wealth and who have neglected their duties of providing services for Iraqis. Besides, the generators of electric power are very important in order to provide electricity for all the Iraqi provinces and regions. Thus, the government and the concerned ministry must be committed to achieving that. They must not neglect their duties this time, because Iraqis have been exposed to significant suffering due to the bad services. That’s why it is important to provide services for Iraqis. Unfortunately, the government, the politicians and the ministers have neglected Iraqis, who have witnessed a tragic situation due to the terrorist groups.

  • وليد حسن

    2011-12-29

    It is important to improve the agricultural sector, in order to accommodate many unemployed persons. In fact, work in the agricultural sector will require a large labor force. Besides, this will support many Iraqi families that have been suffering from poverty, unemployment and hunger. And the prices of the agricultural products will witness a significant decrease in the Iraqi markets, especially the prices of vegetables and fruits, which are very important for the Iraqi citizens.

  • انور جابر

    2011-12-29

    The prices of vegetables and fruits have witnessed a significant increase in Iraq. Of course, this is due to the stopping of agricultural operations. In fact, it is important to work on increasing productivity, in order to lower the prices of vegetables and fruits. Thus, the government must work on supporting the agricultural sector through providing all the farmers’ requirements. This is in order to facilitate the agricultural operations and to increase productivity. The government must stop importing agricultural crops from neighboring countries, because this is the first and main reason behind the increase in the prices of vegetables and fruits. Besides, the government and the Ministry of Agriculture must take the necessary measures in order to start their work in the agricultural operations, and they must provide all the farmers’ requirements, such as tractors, fertilizers, chemical products, seeds, water, electricity, generators, and water pumps. In fact, the farmers have been deprived of these requirements, which is why many farmers have left their work in agriculture. Thus, it is important to support them, in order to increase the productivity of the agricultural crops, such as vegetables and fruits. And it is certain that the citizens, the farmers and even the government will benefit from this, especially since the economy will witness improvement. Besides, stopping the importation of agricultural products will save the government money. Thus, Iraq could be among the countries that export agricultural products of high quality, in terms of taste and shape.

  • زياد مهدي

    2011-12-28

    Iraq needs every honorable person who thinks of the country’s interest, so that we can all contribute to helping it get away from the state of deterioration and loss and move towards the unknown. I think strictly that the basis for the success of the march in Iraq will occur through the gate of advancing the poor agricultural reality which Iraq is witnessing, especially after the departure of the dictator Saddam Hussein, as the war effects and the negligence of the Iraqi government of this important and vital sector in the Iraqi economy led to the decline of the economy towards nowhere.

  • فاروق نصر

    2011-12-28

    We call upon the Ministry of Agriculture and the Agricultural departments in all the villages and the rural areas in Iraq, and we ask you to tell them where you are from [and] what we are suffering as farmers. And how can we perform our duties as farmers while there is no governmental support to facilitate the matter for us? We are suffering from a lot of problems and we would like you to help and support us in different aspects, including helping us to get rid of the destructive routine and the unjustified influence peddling while registering to obtain electric generators from the state, because without those generators, we will not be able to plant, and all the officials know that. We would like to be provided with adequate fertilizers, because we receive small amounts that are not sufficient for the planted crops. This obligates us to buy the fertilizers on the black market or leave a large part of the land without fertilization, and this affects productivity. We need to be provided with water, because we leave a lot of our agricultural land unplanted. This is a result of the lack of irrigation water. The reason will be because of following up the international agreements which are signed between us and the neighboring countries, so as to restore the Iraqi quota of water in the main rivers, as well as following up on what Iran is doing in terms of diverting the rivers which flow into Iraq from its lands. Moreover, the government should help in drilling many wells in the agricultural areas, so as to take advantage of underground water in agriculture. I wish that the Iraqi government would perform its duties towards the farmers and restore life to agriculture in Iraq, because actually we have become an importing country for everything, and all kinds of food are imported. Is this acceptable in Mesopotamia, which is supposed to be the exporter of food and agricultural products to the rest of the countries?

  • مهدي عبد النور

    2011-12-27

    The sudden price increase in Iraqi is unusual, and it has never been like this before. What is the reason? No one knows. Fruits and vegetables are supposed to be the cheapest products in Iraq, because the poor Iraqi citizens depend on them. Yet, greed controlled Iraqi farmers and shop owners. The poor people in Iraq can only recover in the summer, because most vegetables and fruits are cheap then. The agricultural crops are decreasing; agriculture needs a lot of supplies, water and chemicals. So, the Iraqi farmers are not the only party responsible for the deterioration of the agricultural sector. On the contrary, they suffer the most because their land needs water; it needs intensive care from the farmers, the Ministry of Agriculture and the Iraqi officials. Agriculture in Iraq is the most important aspect in the life of the citizens. Officials do not solve this big crisis that Iraqi citizens have to endure.

  • Amin alhaj

    2011-12-10

    Work, and God and His Messenger, as well as the believers, will see your work. The presence of this minister is auspicious, as he is broadminded and active, and he loves the good of this country.