Drought and “neighbors” deprived Iraq of half of its cultivated land


An official at the Iraqi Ministry of Agriculture told Agence France-Presse that the cultivated areas in the country fell by half, compared to last year, following the drought and low levels of the Tigris and Euphrates.
The ministry has banned the cultivation of rice, corn and some other crops that need a lot of water due to severe drought this year.

“If we want to compare cultivated areas this year with last year, the damage will be 50 percent,” said Mehdi al-Qaisi, deputy minister of agriculture.

“The water plan excluded some vegetables because there was not enough water to cover the summer plan,” he said.

According to the authorities, the losses incurred by rice farmers will amount to 34 million euros this year.

In the city of Nasiriyah, more than 400 families have fled their villages to settle in areas with better water supplies for their flocks, local officials said.

Iraq, dubbed the “Mesopotamia”, has been suffering from the low impact of the water level for years.

Apart from the lack of rainfall, the main cause of the drought remains the diversion and cutting of rivers flowing into the Tigris and the Euphrates by Turkey and Iran, experts say.

Turkey has recently started operating the Alesso dam on the Tigris River, which is a blow to agriculture in Iraq, whose repercussions will appear in various aspects of life.

This has angered Iraqis and worries the authorities, already facing problems due to chronic power shortages.

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