In an exciting development, the fertile lands of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) are putting the region on the international agricultural map, with the KRI now becoming the source of choice for a culinary favorite: potatoes.
Fresh from its successful exports in exporting agricultural products to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has struck yet another deal, this time with Saudi Arabia, to supply 3,000 tons of premium potatoes to the Kingdom. As of October 23, the first batch, weighing 250 tons, departed from Erbil for Riyadh, marking a significant milestone in Kurdish agricultural expansion.
This recent move highlights the rising prominence of the KRI’s agricultural sector and underscores the KRG’s commitment to fostering international trade partnerships. As foreign demand for the KRI’s bountiful produce grows, so do the opportunities for local businesses, especially those in the agriculture industry.
Aura Company, a key player in Kurdish agriculture and agricultural product warehousing, has already been making strides in exporting Kurdish potatoes. Owner Haji Sabir describes the company’s journey into international markets, which began with potato exports to the UAE.
Working alongside relevant government agencies from the UAE and the KRG, Aura Company initially secured a 5,000-ton potato contract, which later expanded to 9,500 tons.
To ensure seamless exports to the UAE, Aura Company took the strategic step of establishing its own warehouse in the region, which has helped address potential challenges associated with product transportation, ensuring a steady supply of fresh Kurdish potatoes to the UAE market.
As the demand for Kurdish potatoes continues to rise, Saudi Arabia has emerged as the second international destination for this delectable export. A new contract has been inked between Aura Company and a Saudi partner, with the backing and coordination of the Saudi government, to import 3,000 tons of potatoes. The chosen variety, known as “artificial Hermes,” has been particularly favored for its exceptional quality.
“Quality matters, and our products speak for themselves,” says Haji Sabir. “The artificial Hermes variety has garnered significant attention in Saudi Arabia, which has already received 350 tons. Their enthusiasm has kept us busy, and they are eager to know just how much we can export daily.”
The potatoes requested by Saudi Arabia are not limited to the artificial Hermes. To meet different culinary demands, the Kingdom has also placed orders for the Vontan and Babylon potato varieties, which are experiencing a supply shortage. The exports, as per the agreement, will continue until November 15 of this year.
A promising future for Kurdish agriculture
One cannot help but marvel at the exciting prospects unfolding in the KRI’s agricultural landscape. With a steady stream of orders from international markets and the opportunity to showcase the rich variety of potatoes and other produce grown in the region, the agricultural sector is poised for continued growth and success.
The price of Kurdish potatoes heading to Saudi Arabia currently stands between $350 and $400 per ton, a competitive and attractive rate for these high-quality products. As these exports gain momentum, it is only a matter of time before other countries come to appreciate the agricultural treasures that Kurdistan has to offer.
Foreigners keen to savor the rich, fertile flavors of the KRI through its premium potatoes are in for a treat. In these humble spuds, one can taste the future of Kurdistan's flourishing agricultural industry.
Mohammad Dargalayi is a journalist and photographer with 13 years of experience. He is a member of International Federation of Journalists.