Iraq forecasts wheat imports above 2m tonnes
Cairo, August 15, 2014
Iraq has enough wheat to last until March despite Islamic State militants taking over large areas of fertile land in the north, the head of the country's main grain-importing organisation told Reuters on Thursday.
Hassan Ibrahim, director general of Iraq's Grain Board, said he expects wheat imports for 2014 to be slightly above two million tonnes, while he said typical levels are 1.5 to 2 million tonnes.
Imports stand at around 1.5 million tonnes so far this year, he said. "We will import about 600,000 or 700,000 tonnes from now until the end of year."
Ibrahim said the trade ministry had no financing problems and that he had instructions to keep importing in order to maintain large reserves.
"There are instructions from the government to keep big (quantities of wheat in) storage," he said.
Iraq consumes around 6.5 million tonnes of wheat yearly, according to the US Department of Agriculture. The USDA says roughly half of that is imported.
The trade ministry estimates around 1.1 million tonnes of local wheat is in government silos in five provinces partially or largely under control by Islamic State militants.
The United Nations food agency says the region accounts for around 40 per cent of Iraq's wheat crop.
While Iraq faces no immediate food shortages, the longer term outlook is uncertain.
Ibrahim said that the most productive wheat-growing areas are in the north. - TradeArabia News Service