Posted by: r.m. | April 28, 2009

death knell for agriculture – in the historic land of agriculture?

Akh, yal Iraq!

Decades of war, UN sanctions, underinvestment, military operations, and the cutting down of trees for firewood have paralysed Iraq’s agricultural sector and increased salinity and desertification to “very scary levels”, al-Qaisi (undersecretary in the Agriculture Ministry) said.

According to the Agriculture Ministry, salinity is affecting at least 40 percent of agricultural land, mainly in central and southern Iraq, while 40-50 percent of what was agricultural land in the 1970s has been affected by desertification.

Fadel Ali al-Faragi, head of the desertification control division in the Agriculture Ministry, said … 92.5 percent of Iraq was subject to desertification

The plains area of central and southern Iraq, renowned for its fertility in the 1970s, had turned into salinised land. It is estimated that about 25,000 hectares annually are affected by salinisation and becoming too saline for major agricrops to grow.

..

“Things are slipping from our hands,” said Mohammed Ali Sarham, a water expert in Iraq’s southern province of Diwaniyah. “We are entering the third year of drought; water levels are falling all the time, and nothing is being done about it,” Sarham said.

“Swaths of land are being turned into desert; farmers are leaving the countryside and heading to the cities or nearby areas. We are importing almost all our food, though in the 1950s we were one of the few regional cereal exporting countries,” he said.

“The challenges are beyond the government. The agricultural sector needs huge sums of investment in modern technology before any results will be seen,” he said. “And this can only be achieved by private sector and foreign investment.”

Wait. Stop. “Can only be achieved by the private sector and foreign investment”? Now that is the case, yes. Now, because Iraq’s main national treasure (the oil) is no longer in the hands of Iraqis, and because the Iraqi government is beholden to the wishes of the US occupying forces, and because after the UN/US sanctions (and the grotesque so called “reparations” which took from those who had much need to give to those who had little need) which deliberately deprived the government of funds, now, it can “only be achieved by the private sector”! Ah, but the private sector has its own interests and its own formulations. And those interests are not in supporting the Iraqi farmer or in maintaining the vast riches in Iraqi plant variety or in making sure that Iraq becomes self-sufficient again!

[P.S. The Saddam Hussein regime was not innocent either.]

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