The Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) is steadily making strides in expanding its agricultural sector and fortifying its presence in international markets, particularly through the export of pomegranates. With an eye on European markets, the KRI continues its successful export trajectory, with plans underway to ship 1,000 tons this year.
Idris Anwar, the proprietor of an export company, disclosed that the initial phase saw 110 tons of pomegranates dispatched to the UK and France. Notably, 65% of this batch originated from farms in Halabja, while the remaining 35% came from Zakho. Anwar confirmed that exports are set to continue their momentum until the target of 1,000 tons is achieved.
“The Office of the Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has been instrumental in facilitating our direct export initiatives, actively carving out markets and streamlining procedures,” Anwar remarked.
The surge in pomegranate exports has amplified farmers’ enthusiasm, prompting a renewed focus on enhancing production. Salman Mohammed, Director General of Agriculture of Zakho, hailed the government’s pivotal role in uplifting the agricultural sector, citing the export initiatives as a catalyst for tangible progress.
The strategic export orientation aligns with the KRG’s agenda, emphasizing the promotion and commercialization of the KRI’s agricultural products in foreign markets. Notably, the involvement of 60 farmers from Halabja Governorate and 30 farmers from Zakho underscores the collective effort driving the overseas exportation of pomegranates and pomegranate-related products.
Hosni Mohammed, a farmer from Zakho, expressed satisfaction with the quality of this year’s crop, highlighting plans to leverage trade networks for export opportunities in Europe. “Our cultivation practices emphasize natural methods, abstaining from chemical usage. Proper irrigation, tailored to soil conditions, is pivotal,” Mohammed emphasized.
Anticipations are high as two local companies are facilitating the export of pomegranates to the UK and France, with projections of reaching 1,000 tons by the end of 2023. The scale of cultivation speaks volumes: Halabja Governorate’s 1,000 hectares produce 30,000 tons annually, while 400 hectares in Zakho yield an annual production of 14,000 tons. In the KRI, pomegranate prices hover around 1,500 Iraqi dinars per kilogram.
The advances made by the KRI in exporting pomegranates not only signify economic growth, but also notably underscore the region’s commitment to sustainable agriculture and global market integration.
Islam Yousif is a distinguished senior journalist in the Kurdistan Region.