Crop diversity down as Kurdistan’s farmers focus on profit
PM:06:38:09/06/2018
SULAIMANI, Kurdistan Region – Crop diversity in the Kurdistan Region is down as farmers are dedicating the majority of their land to one or two crops and the government says it has no way to regulate what farmers choose to plant. 

Farmers and the government have different motivations and the government is not giving farmers incentive or encouragement to follow a grander agricultural plan, argued one farmer. 

"A farmer wants to gain the most profit, to harvest good product and make good profit. The government doesn't have a good plan to support the farmer and give the farmer reason to follow the government's plan," Salar Ismael explained told Rudaw.

Currently, many farmers are dedicating large amounts of farmland to just one or two products. 

Sulaimani is one example where 846 square kilometers of land have been planted with wheat, 274 with barley, 16 with onions, 49 with melons, 20 square kilometers are planted with tomatoes and cucumbers, and just 6 square kilometers are planted with eggplants, white beans, potatoes, cabbage, broccoli, zucchini, and cauliflower. 

The Ministry of Agriculture says it can’t do anything because of lack of funds – the ministry receives two percent of the KRG’s annual budget.

If the government were to try to dictate farmers’ crops, then it would also be obliged to find a market for the products, explained Shalaw Jamal, the director of Sulaimani's Agriculture Department. 

"You will have to find a market for him [the farmer]. You have to compensate him," said Jamal.

Agriculture used to be a cornerstone of the Kurdish economy, but that decreased with the inflow of oil revenues and rapid urbanization. 

In the past four years, with the financial crisis, some have returned to the fields and the government has worked to revive the agriculture sector in order to diversify the economy, yet the region still relies heavily on imports.


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