. Energy News .

Water dispute threatens last Iraq commercial farm
by Staff Writers
As-Suwayra, Iraq (AFP) Nov 11, 2011

The grass is yellowing, the cows are emaciated and milk production is a fraction of what it once was -- Iraq's last major commercial farm is dying a slow death due to a dispute over water.

The 1,600-hectare Al-Nasr farm, located in As-Suwayra about 60 kilometres (35 miles) southeast of Baghdad and owned by the wealthy Buniya family, had 3,500 Holstein cows, which once produced 12,000 tonnes of milk per day, according to farm manager Taher Yassin Mussawi.

But a dispute with As-Sanabel, the company supplying water to the farm, that saw its water supply cut off about a month ago because Al-Nasr was not paying for it, has hit the alfalfa and clover on which the cows would normally graze.

"The production of milk has fallen from 12,000 to 2,000 tonnes per day," said Mussawi, as local authorities cut off water to the farm.

"We only have two weeks of fodder for the cows left, and if the problem isn't resolved, they will all die," he said, adding that some 10 cows are dying per day.

Mussawi also said that the weight of calves born recently had dropped to about 25 kilogrammes (55 pounds), from a usual 42 kilogrammes (92 pounds).

The problem arose from a dispute over the price of water with As-Sanabel, which is owned by Iraqi MP Ibrahim al-Mutlaq, the brother of deputy prime minister Saleh al-Mutlaq.

Security forces were sent to the farm, blocking off the 10 sluice gates and a pipeline that provided it with water from a nearby canal.

"We decided to cut off the water because they have not paid since the beginning of the year," said Faez Jawad, the head of the provincial council's agriculture commission.

But Mussawi said it was not the council's place to act alone.

"Our differences with As-Sanabel must be solved in court," Mussawi said, expressing astonishment that "the officials of the province decided on their own to send the police and shut off the water."

The agriculture committee has not backed down despite a November 3 letter from the ministry of agriculture, a copy of which was obtained by AFP, calling for water to the farm to be restored, as the law states that "we should not in any way harm the agricultural production that the country needs so much."

While it was presented in antiquity as an immense orchard, and is said by some to be a possible location for the Biblical Garden of Eden, modern Mesopotamia's agricultural production meets just 30 percent of its needs.

Iraq has for nearly 15 years experienced water shortages due in large part to the network of dams built by Turkey as part of a massive development project in its southeast.

Agriculture's percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has declined from nine percent in 2002 to four percent in 2008, according to a UN report.

"I did not cut the water, but I complained to the Wasit provincial council about the unpaid debts and it made the decision," said Karim Obeid, the director of As-Sanabel.

"We are ready to negotiate," Obeid said. "I do not want the livestock to die, but (the farm) must pay its debts."

The land that now makes up Al-Nasr, which was sold by the government in 1990, represents the biggest agricultural investment in the country, and the last of the 36 large farms that existed prior to the US-led invasion of 2003. All the others were looted.

The company has invested $1.6 million in pasture area for grazing, and in 600 hectares of wheat, this year.

The 400 veterinarians, engineers and other employees fear for their future, in a province where unemployment has reached 18 percent, according to the UN.

"Who will give us jobs when the farm is destroyed?" asked one employee, Fakhri al-Shammari.

"The government is always repeating that it supports investment. I say to them, you have to maintain the investment that you already have."

Noting that the farm's employees and investors are all Iraqis, he asked: "How can foreign investors be sure of their investment if the government deals in this way with the sons of the country?"

Related Links
Farming Today - Suppliers and Technology

Get Our Free Newsletters Via Email
Buy Advertising Editorial Enquiries


. Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

How parasites modify plants to attract insects
Norwich UK (SPX) Nov 11, 2011
Pathogens can alter their hosts, for example malaria parasites can make humans more attractive to mosquitoes, but how they do it has remained a mystery. Scientists from the John Innes Centre on Norwich Research Park have identified for the first time a specific molecule from a parasite that manipulates plant development to the advantage of the insect host. "Our findings show how this patho ... read more

TerraSAR-X image of the month - Tents in the desert

Castles in the desert - satellites reveal lost cities of Libya

Stalled Weather Systems More Frequent in Decades of Warmer Atlantic

Thousand-Color Sensor Reveals Contaminants in Earth and Sea

In GPS case, US court debates '1984' scenario

Galileo satellites handed over to control centre in Germany

Map mischief creates furore in India

Russia launches navigation satellites

'Father of Mangroves' fights for Pakistan's forests

Holm oaks will gain ground in northern forests due to climate change

Climate change causing massive movement of tree species across the West

Tropical forests are fertilized by air pollution

Generating Ethanol from Lignocellulose Possible, But Large Cost Reductions Still Needed

Solazyme Announces First US Commercial Passenger Flight on Advanced Biofuel

A Stable Renewable Fuel Standard Is Needed to Meet Biofuel Production Goals

Mission Increases Jatropha Oil Supply Completing the 2011 Planting Season

Tenesol gets tough on PV security

PV in China to reach US levels

A Light Wave of Innovation to Advance Solar Energy

Sustainable, Solar Light Solutions To Disadvantaged Zambian Communities

Mortenson Construction Builds Its Fifth Wind Facility In Illinois

Chinese Wind Market To Overtake Germany by 2018, Second Only to the UK

Huhne slams green energy 'naysayers'

Wind farm development can be powerful, as long as proper design is implemented

Battle to save 23 miners trapped in China

China coal mine accident traps at least 43

Death toll in China mine blast rises to 10

45 saved in major Chinese mine rescue: state media

Clinton presses China on Tibet, blind lawyer

Chinese artist Ai Weiwei vows to fight tax bill

Tibet protester sets himself alight in Nepal: police

China's 'soft power' push stumbles at the movies


The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2011 - Space Media Network. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement