Saturday, April 02, 2005

Creating a market for seeds and fertilizer

Once-plentiful date trees dwindle in agricultural crisis


In al-Dora, a neighborhood about 9 miles south of the capital, vegetable farmer Ahmed Salman, 54, his skin blackened by the sun, has similar complaints. "I don't have enough fertilizer. And I'm seeing many new seeds and fertilizers in the Iraqi market that we're not familiar with. I'm afraid to buy it." He adds, "I stopped going to the Ministry of Agriculture because they do not help us."

At the College of Agriculture in Abu Ghraib, a Baghdad suburb, professors Ma'Ad Yousif and Alaa' al-Jobouri affirm farmers' complaints. "We lack seeds and fertilizer," al-Jobouri says.
He says rats infest the wheat fields in the north. Many palms, already fragile from neglect, have been poisoned by the U.S. bombing campaign, he adds. The fronds rot and fall off, as is evident at Obaidi's plantation. Yousif says Iraqi farmers have not received direction from the new Agriculture Ministry.

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