SUBSCRIBE

Breaking News on Food & Beverage Development and Technology - Asia PacificEU edition | US edition

Regions > Middle East

Farming returning to Mosul even as fighting continues to ravage city

Post a commentBy RJ Whitehead , 11-Jan-2017
Last updated on 11-Jan-2017 at 13:43 GMT2017-01-11T13:43:37Z

© FAO
© FAO

Thousands of the poorest residents of the war-torn region around Mosul, along with hundreds of thousands of other struggling Iraqis, are being given the chance to earn for themselves again thanks to a new project that is restoring irrigation to 250,000 hectares of farmland.

Water will soon flow through the canals that used to feed the once-fertile land some 30km west of Mosul, a northern city that has been occupied by Islamic State jihadists since June 2014. 

A cash-for-work component of the project, led by the Food and Agriculture Office of the United Nations, supports vulnerable families, many of whom have earned almost no income since IS marched into the area.

Participants are being paid to clear the main canal of the Al Jazeera irrigation scheme of debris so it can once again feed the smaller canals in the system.

The FAO has also repaired the pumping station that water to the waterways from Mosul Dam, and is collaborating with a company to clear mines and undetonated ordnance from the valuable farmland in the area—a first for the UN agriculture body.

The project is already benefiting more than 3,000 people and there are hopes that farming is back underway as Iraqi forces fight for control of Mosul in an operation that began in October. 

Having overcome Isis occupation of east of the city, government troops have been engaged in fierce battles with jihadists as they close in on the left bank of the Tigris river, which divides Mosul.

"Farmers here haven't been able to grow vegetables for two years, since the irrigation canals were destroyed by armed groups who also contaminated the area with explosive devices," said Fadel El-Zubi, the FAO’s representative in Iraq. 

"Restoring people's ability to farm and trade in this area is not only important for food security but also for building prosperity and lasting peace in the country.”

Farmers used to export vegetables and crops, including wheat and barley, to Syria and other countries, as well as supplying millions of people in Iraq. Now the country relies on fruit and vegetable imports.

"We collect debris in piles and then merge every four piles into one big one for the excavator to pick up and remove from the canal," said 23-year-old Ahmed Mohammed, a father of three. 

"My brother has agricultural land and he'll benefit from the project as well. He used to grow wheat and barley in the winter and vegetables at other times. Now he can only grow vegetables when the rain falls."

The Al Jazeera irrigation scheme has been an essential source of water for agriculture, livestock and domestic use since it was launched in 1991. Some 100 of the system’s smaller canals have been damaged since the fighting began. Due to this and damage to the pumping station from the fighting, residents have had to face extreme water shortages.

As Iraq’s government fights to retake control of more areas, a major effort is needed to rehabilitate critical infrastructure so that agricultural production can resume and livelihoods can be restored, the FAO said. 

The agency is currently seeking urgent funding of US$89m to rehabilitate damaged agricultural infrastructure, support farmers to vaccinate and feed their livestock, and expand cash-for-work and other income-generating activities.

Post a comment

Comment title *
Your comment *
Your name *
Your email *

We will not publish your email on the site

I agree to Terms and Conditions

These comments have not been moderated. You are encouraged to participate with comments that are relevant to our news stories. You should not post comments that are abusive, threatening, defamatory, misleading or invasive of privacy. For the full terms and conditions for commenting see clause 7 of our Terms and Conditions ‘Participating in Online Communities’. These terms may be updated from time to time, so please read them before posting a comment. Any comment that violates these terms may be removed in its entirety as we do not edit comments. If you wish to complain about a comment please use the "REPORT ABUSE" button or contact the editors.

Related products

Key Industry Events

 

Access all events listing

Our events, Shows & Conferences...