Drought and war in Ukraine threaten wheat in Iraq

Kamel Hamed’s golden spikes wave languidly in the wind. But faced with this bucolic landscape in central Iraq, the farmer does not hide his anguish: between the drought, the war in Ukraine and the scarcity of water, his harvest has been divided by two.

“The drought is unbelievable at the moment. Even in the wells, the water cannot be used. It is salt water,” says Hamed, who is wearing a white dishdasha (long garment) and his head covered by a keffiyeh ( traditional scarf).

Furthermore, since February, the repercussions of the war in Ukraine have been felt even in their fields, near the village of Khaliha: the price of fuel, fertilizer and seeds has increased considerably.

This has caused its production costs to skyrocket.

Like all farmers in Iraq, Kamel Hamed follows the guidelines of the authorities, who buy the grain from him, determine the areas planted and the level of irrigation, based on water reserves and rainfall.

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This year, due to water scarcity, Iraq has halved its cultivated area.

Hamed has planted a quarter of his 100 donums (10 hectares). In her fields, the harvester makes round trips to cut off the ripe ears. The grain is thrown onto the bed of the truck.

“This year we haven’t even gotten 500 kilos of wheat from a donum,” says the 53-year-old farmer. In previous seasons, he used to get a ton per donum.

The war in Ukraine “has pushed up the price of motor oil and high-yield seeds,” he says.

“I don’t know how to support my family,” adds Hamed. “No salary, no job, where can I go?”

– ‘Leave the Earth’ –

But the key factor is water.

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