I. Key Messages
- The Ministry of Agriculture has assisted Iraqi farmers using import bans to protect their production from competition as well as supported Iraq’s farmers and traders by exporting this year bumper harvests of barley and dates.
- The Ministry of Trade continues to distribute delayed food rations, while paying back arrears owed to wheat farmers for their production from 2014/5 in addition to their 2020 harvest.
- The national average of main food commodity prices remained stable in the past two weeks, with some seasonal variations in vegetable prices between governorates.
The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has continued to spread in Iraq. As of 5 October 2020, the World Health Organization reported 382,949 cases and 9,464 deaths, a 15% and 8% increase respectively over the preceding two weeks.
The global economic slowdown, driven by measures to contain the spread of the illness, decreased the demand for oil and put downward pressure on prices. In Iraq, oil income accounts for 90% of the government revenue and the drop in oil prices has had a significant impact on country’s finances. Over the past two weeks, Basra heavy oil prices have remained stable, with 39.30 per barrel, up from minimum of USD 18.7 per barrel in April 2020, but well below USD 58.4 per barrel, the price recorded roughly one year ago. As fiscal pressure mounts for the government, the Ministry of Finance has had to delay some salary payments of government employees and retirees in the month of September.
FAO organized a one day workshop with the ministry of agriculture, EU and many partners to discuss ongoing efforts to implement agricultural rehabilitation and development programs in Iraq that focus on job creation for farming communities and the private sector as well as support value chains in selected crop and livestock sub-sectors.
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Food Programme (WFP), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Bank continue to track the impact of this crisis on food security, with a focus on food availability, access, utilization and stability.