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BAGHDAD: Iraq expects to produce 3.65 million tonnes of wheat this year, a senior agriculture official said on Wednesday, as the country tries to increase output to feed hundreds of thousands of people displaced by war between government forces and Islamic State.

"Expected local production of wheat, and according to the agriculture ministry plan, is 3.650 million tonnes which will meet 80 percent of domestic need," deputy agriculture minister Mahdi al-Qaisi told Reuters.

Al-Qaisi said the actual wheat requirement for the country's ration card system was between 4.25 million tonnes and 4.5 million tonnes: "The gap of needed wheat should be tackled by the trade ministry through its import plan," he said.

The deputy also said rice production was only expected to meet a third of domestic demand due to water shortages.

In addition, Islamic State seized large swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria in 2014, including grain producing land, preventing the country from boosting local production.



Copyright Reuters, 2017

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