HEADLINES:

Farmers protest low-price, imported potatoes, dump produce in front of KRG’s agriculture ministry

Call for ban on imports from Iran
Farmers protested throw away their potato produce in front of the offices of the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources in Erbil against the presence of cheap imported potatoes on the local market in Erbil city, Kurdistan Region/ Iraq on September 24. 2020. (Photo Credit: NRT Digital Media)
2020-09-24

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SULAIMANI — Farmers protested on Thursday (September 24) in front of the offices of the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources in Erbil against the presence of cheap imported potatoes on the local market.

In what has become a classic protest tactic, the farmers dumped their produce on the ground, saying that they cannot compete with the foreign produce and were losing money as a result.

They specifically called for a ban on potatoes entering the Kurdistan Region through the Parvizkhan border crossing with Iran.

“We sell each kilogram for 200 Iraqi dinars ($0.17) at the produce market, while the Iranian potatoes are sold for 90 Iraqi dinars ($0.08) per kilogram,” one of protester told NRT reporter Omed Chomani.

In response, KRG Agriculture and Water Resources Minister Begard Talabani said that her ministry is not in charge of deciding whether to ban imports.

In the past, the KRG Council of Ministers has banned the importation of agricultural products to support local farmers on numerous occasions, with the agriculture and interior ministries then implementing the decision.

Announced with fanfare, it is common for the import bans to then quietly lapse.

Previous protests, including one on an Erbil roadway in July, proved embarrassing for the government, which scrambled to respond by putting in a ban on imported tomatoes.

Historically, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) have controlled customs procedures at the international borders. This lucrative dynamic is part of why the cheap imports are allowed to continue.

(NRT Digital Media)