Insight Iraq

In-Depth News & Views

Iraq News

Iraq’s new water-saving irrigation system revives local crops

Al-Azrakiya – Just after 4 several years of drought, Iraqi farmer Mohammed Sami was about to abandon his father’s parched land, but then a drinking water-conserving irrigation program revived his crops and his hopes.

He is amid hundreds of farmers in the nation battered by heatwaves, scarce rain and depleted rivers to profit from new water administration devices brought by the UN Globe Food Programme.

The methods use automatic sprinklers and drip irrigation to make sure scarce drinking water is used in the most effective way and is not dropped as operate-off or evaporated less than the blazing sunlight.

“Since 2019, because of to the h2o shortage, we have been unable to farm the land,” claimed 38-yr-aged Sami in his village of Al-Azrakiya in the central province of Anbar.

Crushed by the drought that was turning his10 donums, or about one particular hectare, ofland into desert, Sami started out operating in a close by city as a day labourer several a long time ago.

“I considered about providing up farming for very good,” he explained.

But then, two a long time in the past, Sami’s prospective buyers improved, and his land has flourished again.

The WFP assisted with anewautomated irrigation systemthat waters his discipline for just two hrs for every working day, two to 3 times a week.

“I now irrigate10donums with the same total of drinking water that I utilized for a person donum in advance of,” he mentioned, including that his wheat harvest experienced shot up from 7 to 12 tonnes for each calendar year.

Last 12 months the WFP task served additional than 1,100 farmers “in locations most afflicted by climate improve and drought,” explained Khansae Ghazi from the UN agency’s Baghdad business.

The new irrigation systems “use 70 percent a lot less h2o than conventional strategies such as flooding” — the vastly more wasteful strategy utilised for millennia.

The modern day procedures allow for farmers to improve various crops year-round, also which includes barley, cucumber, watermelon and eggplant, and reduce “the reliance on unpredictable rainfall”, the WFP stated.

– Land of Two Rivers –

Iraq, nonetheless recovering from years of war and chaos, is just one of the five nations most impacted by some outcomes of weather alter, in accordance to the United Nations.

The web site of historical Mesopotamia, the place civilisations flourished on the banking companies of the mighty Tigris and Euphrates rivers, Iraq now endures extraordinary drinking water shortage, worsened by upstream river dams in Iran and Turkey.

“Iraq is the Land of Two Rivers, its more than7,000-yr-oldcivilisation has usually relied on farming,”said agriculture ministry spokesman Mohammed al-Khazai.

“For decades, the region was troubled by floods, not drought.”

But as rainfall has turn into additional irregular and water a lot more scarce, leaving aquifers depleted, numerous farmers have deserted their plots in the new dust-bowl areas.

Throughout the 202122 year, the farm sector’s productivity plunged by 36 percent from the former 12 months, mentioned the WFP.

State authorities have limited drinking water use for agriculture to make certain adequate consuming drinking water for Iraq’s 43 million folks.

To struggle the issue, the ministry has also startedofferingsprinkler techniques that farmers can pay off more than a decade, with the state covering 30p.c of the price tag.

“At to start with, it was tough for the farmer to switch to fashionable irrigation,” reported Khazai.

But now the ministry hopes to increase harvests to far more than 6 million tons of wheat in 2024, from 5 million past year.

This would exceed Iraq’s domestic desires and present a major soar from all-around two million tonnes in 2022.

The UN agency warns there are limits to the gains introduced by new approaches.

“While modern-day irrigation methods can considerably improve water efficiency and agricultural procedures in Iraq, it may perhaps not be adequate to tackle the complicated problem of drought,” it stated.

But for now, farmers are delighted with the gains they are seeing, among them Souad Mehdi in the village of Al-Azrakiya in close proximity to the Euphrates, who said she has doubled her harvest.

The 40-12 months-aged grows wheat and barley in the winter and corn, tomatoes and eggplant in the summer season on her one particular-hectare plot.

“It applied to get us two days to h2o our crops,” she reported. Now, she fills a basin with river water then turns on the sprinklers, a process that “doesn’t get far more than two hours”.