Kurdistan potato farmers angry over cheap, banned imports

Yesterday, Kurdistan farmers dumped their potatoes in front of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG)’s agriculture ministry in Erbil, protesting banned imports that have pushed their produce out of the market.

“Look at our potatoes. They have no problems. We have brought the potatoes here because we cannot sell them due to imports from Iran and Syria,” farmer Diyar Abubakr told Rudaw.

This year, the Kurdistan Region produced about 300,000 tons of potatoes, according to official figures. The ministry banned potato imports in August, but this has not stopped the trade, especially from Iran. Farmers claimed that businessmen were paying around $1,700 to officials at the borders to smuggle potatoes into the Kurdistan Region.

Image: Rudaw

A kilogram of locally grown potatoes sells for 300-350 dinars, while smuggled spuds can be bought for 200-250 dinars per kilo.

The Kurdistan Region consumes 90,000 tons of potatoes per year and produces more than it needs, selling about 70 percent to other Iraqi provinces, according to data obtained from the ministry. Farmers waiting to move their potatoes have to pay up to 100,000 dinars per day for cold storage.

The agriculture minister said upholding the import ban rests on the shoulders of ministries who control the border crossings.

[ 100 dinars = €0,072 ]

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