Economy, Domestic Economy

Iraq Agro Minister Forecasts $3b Trade

Iraq Agro Minister Forecasts $3b TradeIraq Agro Minister Forecasts $3b Trade

In a meeting between Iran’s Minister of Agricultural Jihad Mahmoud Hojati and his Iraqi counterpart Fallah Hossein al-Zaidan in Tehran on Tuesday, the two sides inked an agreement to promote bilateral trade, exchange of experience and technical expertise in agricultural research as well as cooperation in fish farming and modern irrigation systems.

“Only two decades ago, Iran was a major importer of agricultural products. Now, the country is not only able to meet the domestic demand, but it has also become a major exporter in the region,” Eghtesad News quoted Hojati as saying.

The Iraqi minister, for his part, welcomed the prospect of closer ties with Iran and said: “We can increase the annual agricultural trade between the two countries to $3 billion from the current $1.7 billion.”

He referred to the acts of violence perpetrated by IS militants and said about 700,000 hectares of farmland have been lost in northern Iraq, seriously crippling the country’s agriculture industry.

“Nineveh Province which used to account for more than half of Iraq’s wheat and barley production has now turned into a battlefield. Consequently, our wheat production has dropped to 1.4 million tons a year from the previous 4 million tons,” the Iraqi official added.

He called for Iranian agricultural expertise and modern irrigation systems to develop farmland in central and southern Iraq amid drought and water shortages in the region.

Zaidan, accompanied by Iraq’s Ambassador to Iran Rajeh Saber Abboud al-Mousavi and a trade delegation also traveled to Mazandaran Province later in the day for a two-day visit and examined fisheries, slaughterhouses, dairies and greenhouses there.

The head of Agricultural Jihad Organization of Mazandaran Province Delavar Heydarpour, who met with the Iraqi delegation in the city of Amol, announced that the World Health Organization has officialy declared Iran free of avian flu and that chicken exports to Iraq will resume in the near future.

Chicken exports to Iraq recently came to a halt following an outbreak of avian flu in Mazandaran Province.

Stating that Mazandaran’s  citrus production accounts for more than 50% of the country’s total production, Heydarpour said: “We are seeking to expand exports of kiwis, oranges, various vegetables and flowers and ornamental plants to Iraq.”