Monday, May 14, 2007


Food shortage possible as lack of fuel hampers harvesting

Fuel, Food
(Azzaman) - Hundreds of farmers in the agricultural province of Wasit have demonstrated against lack of fuel for their agricultural machines and tools. The farmers, who assembled at the mayor’s headquarters in the provincial capital Kut, said fuel shortages were preventing them from harvesting this year.
They raised placards and shouted slogans denouncing the government and the Oil Ministry for failing to make fuel available at a time the country sits on massive oil reserves. Salman al-Awsi warned that the shortages, if not alleviated, will eventually lead to the destruction of this year’s grain produce. Wasit is major wheat, barely and rice producer in the country.
Awsi said prices of fuel on the spot market were beyond many farmers’ reach. “If we buy from the black market that means the costs of planting and harvesting will soar,” he said. He said huge swathes of agricultural land planted with grains cannot be harvested because of lack of fuel. “There are more than 6,000 families whose livelihood depends on having the crops harvested as soon as possible,” he said.
Iraq faces acute fuel shortages and its refineries which met domestic needs under the former regime of Saddam Hussein are working much below capacity, forcing the authorities to import huge volume to meet demand.

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