By Khalid Al-Ansary
Iraq will offer barley for export for the first time after ample rains and price incentives spurred farmers to grow a surplus of the grain.
The government plans to start auctioning 700,000 tons of the grain next week and anticipates interest from Gulf Arab states, Jordan and countries in North Africa, agriculture ministry spokesman Hameed Al-Nayef said by phone. It’s setting a minimum price of $125 per ton. “The reason behind the barley surplus is the water reserve we had from last year,” Al-Nayef said. “This year we harvested 600,000 tons.”
Ample rains this year have boosted crop prospects across the Middle East, U.S. Department of Agriculture data show. Iraq, formerly the Middle East’s second-biggest buyer of wheat, expects to be self-sufficient in the staple crop for a third consecutive season, due partly to rainfall. Boosting food production should help reduce imports and ease pressure on an economy battered by the coronavirus and lower oil prices.
Another reason for Iraq’s barley surplus is the high prices the government is paying growers. The government pays them the equivalent of $389 to $414 per ton, then re-sells the barley as feed to poultry farmers. Iraq uses about 500,000 tons of barley and yellow corn annually as feed for poultry.
Source: Bloomberg L.P., September 13, 2020