Due to the drought in Kirkuk, Iraq, farmers harvest their crops two months earlier than usual

    21 Jun 2021

    A lack of rainfall has led to severe drought across Iraq, forcing many farmers to leave their farmlands uncultivated, sending wild animals and birds desperate for food.

    Although Hemin Shukir personally managed to dodge severe drought this year, most of his crops have been destroyed by hungry birds. “As you see, sparrows have entirely eaten up this crop,” Shukir, a Kurdish farmer from the village of Yangija, south of Kirkuk, told Rudaw in April.

     “There is a drought this year, which has damaged a lot of our land,” said farmer Edris Othman.

    Local authorities declared a drought in April.

    “We are sending our report to the Ministry of Agriculture. We highlight the scale of damage our farmlands have seen, from fire, flash floods, and other natural disasters, as well as bird attacks. The current bird attacks have damaged this year’s crops,” said Zuhair Ali, head of Kirkuk’s Agriculture department.

    Iraq is the world’s fifth-most vulnerable nation to the effects of climate change, including water and food insecurity, according to the UN.

    After years of conflict and mired in political and economic crises, it is also one of the least prepared to deal with the emergency.

    Drought, fear of arson attacks push Kirkuk farmers to the early harvest

    Drought and fear of arson attacks have led farmers in Kirkuk province to harvest their crops two months earlier than usual, Rudaw reports.

    “In the past years, some of our farmland caught fire. Due to security reasons in the region, we hurried up and brought forward the harvest [by two to three months]. We have already taken precautions to respond to fire,” said Mohammed Ghazi, a farmer from Yangija village.

    Arson has been a major issue for Kurdish farmers in recent years, particularly in Kirkuk and other parts of the disputed territories.

    Islamic State (ISIS) militants have previously set fire to farmland.

    Drought is also a big problem.

    “Drought has had a serious impact on our agricultural plans in Kirkuk. This year, fifty percent of farmland will go to waste,” said Zuhair Ali, head of Kirkuk’s Agriculture Department.

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