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Above Average Cereal Harvest Predicted for Iraq

08 August 2013

IRAQ - Final estimates of the 2013 cereal harvest are not yet available but indications point to an above average crop. Favourable conditions were reported in both rain-fed and irrigated areas, although heavy rainfall in early May (beginning of the harvest) has negatively affected the expected wheat yield in the southern part of the country in Muthanna, Dhi Qar, Maysan and Wasit provinces.

Despite the losses, however, the official preliminary estimates put the overall cereal harvest in 2013 at a record high of about 4.7 million tonnes, 54 per cent above last year’s below average crop, affected by long dry spells in winter, and about 43 per cent above the average.

Wheat production, at 3.3 million tonnes, is 57 per cent above last year’s outturn and the five-year average. At 940,000 tonnes, the barley harvest has increased by almost 88 per cent compared to last year, and 40 per cent above the average.

In August 2013, the Iraq Grain Board reported that farmers shipped over 3.5 million tonnes of wheat and barley to government silos. The Government procurement prices in May 2013 were IQD 792 000 a tonne of wheat (IQD 1 250/USD) compared to IQD 720 000 last year.

Cereal import requirements in 2013/14 forecast at below average

Forecast of cereal import requirements in marketing year 2013/14 (July/June) is put at 4.4 million tonnes, including 2.8 million tonnes of wheat and 1.3 million tonnes of rice. Despite above average domestic harvest, large import requirements are driven by Iraq’s aim to maintain three to six months supply of wheat in its food stocks, as well as commitment to supply each Iraqi citizen with nine kilograms of subsidised flour monthly. Iraqi traders often seek higher quality wheat with more protein and gluten for blending rather than the cheapest origins.

Cereal prices are stable mainly due to the subsidies

In June 2013, the Consumer Price Index increased by 0.9 per cent compared to the previous month, and 2.3 per cent compared to June 2012. The food inflation rate decreased by three per cent on monthly, and increased by 0.7 per cent on yearly basis. While cereal prices remained stable compared to a month ago, vegetable prices decreased by over eight per cent. Iraq’s Ministry of Trade, through the Public Food Distribution System, continues to subsidize basic staple food commodities (rice, wheat flour, vegetable oil, sugar and baby milk formula).

TheCropSite News Desk

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