The Kurdish Ministry of Agriculture predicts that farmers will plant more than 15,000 tons of seed potatoes in mid-February, increasing the amount of potatoes produced in the region.
The humble but nutritious potato is considered one of the most common crops in the world, following wheat, rice, and sweet corn.
The Kurdistan Region has paid more attention to planting potatoes over the past 10 years. Over the past 8 years, potato products increased from 12,000 tons to 213,356 tons.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources, 675 farmers cultivate tens of thousands of acres of land to grow potatoes in the Kurdistan Region.
The private sector has also been helpful in developing this product by bringing potato seeds from abroad, especially from the Netherlands.
The Dutch Agroplant company has opened a branch in the Kurdistan Region due to increasing demand for its potato seeds.
In addition to exporting its seeds to the region, this company also invites Kurdish farmers to the Netherlands annually to introduce them to the latest technology in the field of agriculture and show them potato fields there.
Hussein Arif, General Manager Agroplant Company:
“Growing potatoes in the Kurdistan Region is on the rise. Potato products are increasing year by year.”
“We bring the latest seeds on demand from farmers.”
His company imported 1,300 tons of potato seeds to Kurdistan last year. It has now doubled this amount for the spring season alone.
“Last year, we imported a new type of potato seeds known as 'the actress.' They had good products. They withstand being under soil for longer.”
“This quality was useful to farmers, enabling them to keep their products under the earth until prices go up.”
“Hence, we have doubled the import of these seeds this year on demand from farmers.”
Figures from the agriculture ministry reveal that potato products grown in the Kurdistan Region reached 213,356 tons.
This is twice the amount that the region needs to meet its potato demands in the market. The surplus is exported to Iraqi cities.
“Potato products are increasing gradually in the Kurdistan Region.”
“However, farmers have difficulties selling their products during the harvest, and they cannot keep their products until a later time due to not having enough stores to keep them.”
“This is also because the government levies taxes on imports only during the harvest. They open the borders later.”
Samir Ismail, the ministry of agriculture’s supervisor of the potato project:
“It’s been a few years, we have reached self-sufficiency in our potato products.”
“Our main problem is that the consumption of potatoes is lowest during the harvest of this product. That is why its price goes down during this time.”
“Farmers export the surplus to Iraqi cities due to not having sufficient stores and not being able to sell all their products in Kurdistan.”
Kurdistan-Holland (KH) is the main representative of the Dutch HZPC Company in the Kurdistan Region and Iraq. It helps the ministry of agriculture and local farmers by bringing Dutch seeds to the region.
This company has imported 11,000 tons from six different types of potato seeds for the spring planting season on demand from farmers.
Saadi Asaad, general manager of KH:
“In the Kurdistan Region, potato products are increasing annually. But the entire product cannot be sold here and there aren’t enough stores to keep them. But we are prepared to build small stores for farmers near their fields, providing that the ministry of agriculture allows us and can assure us that farmers will pay back the cost of these stores over time.”
“We can build these stores in a way that local potato products can last for 10 months without having to import them from abroad.”
“Despite the financial crisis and in a bid to further develop potato growth, we have decided to purchase 3,500 tons of potato seeds from companies and distribute them to farmers.”