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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

IRAQ: Now It Is Lack of Food Security--Dahr Jamail

"Under the occupation, Iraqis are getting much of their food from companies in Australia and other countries who assisted the United States during the invasion and occupation. This food has often been of low quality.

"During July 2006 the Iraqi Ministry of Trade rejected or destroyed thousands of tonnes of contaminated food or food past its expiry date. The food had caused widespread poisoning.

"Dr. Rikabi holds both the U.S.-backed Iraqi government and U.S. occupation authorities responsible for the failing food supply. "By the end of 2005 most international NGOs had withdrawn from Iraq on the orders of their governments, who saw the writing on the wall of increasing sectarian violence."

"The security situation and lack of petrol mean that local farmers are often unable to get their food to the markets.

"Changes in Iraqi import laws introduced by former administrator L. Paul Bremer, dropped tariffs on import of foreign products, making it impossible for Iraqi farmers to compete. Countless Iraqi farms went bankrupt.

"But now prices of imported goods have increased dramatically. And so most of the food in Iraqi markets today is imported, and more expensive due to skyrocketing fuel costs and lack of government regulation. Imported foods like chicken, fruits and vegetables now cost more than locally grown foods.

"Local agricultural production is almost nil," Majid al-Dulaymi from the Ministry of Agriculture told IPS. "The limited loans given by the ministry to farmers and planters are misused simply because it is not possible to maintain the agriculture production for reasons well known to everybody here. Now the private sector is importing everything, and the prices are too high to afford."

"An official from the Ministry of Trade said his ministry is struggling to provide Iraqis with food rations as before, but the circumstances make it difficult.

Dahr Jamail via Uruknet.info

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