Kurdistan Regional Government
MON, 22 APR 2019 23:38 Erbil, GMT +3

Kurdistan: Agricultural Renaissance

THU, 12 MAY 2011 15:02 | ISN

London, November 2010

International Supermarket News

The Kurdistan region of Iraq is a beautiful mountainous area that is likely to be where the Garden of Eden was thought to exist. ‘The Kurdistan region is one of the most fertile regions in the Middle East’, said Mr Hardie-Forsyth, Director of Capacity Building.

Kurdistan’s 3.5 million hectares of agricultural land have not been exposed to high levels of pesticides and chemicals, which make the region ideal for cultivating organic or low-residue produce, increasingly popular with consumers all around the world.

A huge variety of fruit and vegetable crops flourish in the region, such as tomatoes, melons, apples, apricots and, of course its famed pomegranates, grown naturally since ancient times.

In all, 81 varieties of grapes can be found in the region, which also boasts an unusually long grape season, from June to November. Medicinal herbs can be found in the mountain regions along with wild flowers, whose nectar to produce high quality honey. The unique climate of the region allows for two grain harvests in each year.

Questions of safety are naturally at the forefront of most people’s minds when they think of Iraq, but speakers for the Regional Government assured visitors that the area is indeed safe, with its own elected government. Not one coalition soldier has been kidnapped or killed in the region since 2003. The area is known as the gateway to Iraq, which has a population of 27.5 million. Kurdistan is served by two airports which allow 18 airlines to run regular flights to Europe and the Middle East, a facility that is very useful for foreign investors. Transport links are being improved in Kurdistan, with another airport opening next year.

When asked about the future of the agricultural sector, the speakers pointed out the incentives available for young farmers, including governmental part-payment of the costs involved in transporting produce. Such schemes will allow the next generation of farmers to become established before being expected to deal with the full cost of production. Such investment in the young has even set up an organisation that caters for its 300 young members, headed by Mrs Diman Saida, Horticulturalist and President of the Society of Devoted Agriculturalists.

The range of financial incentives for foreign investors is impressive. In the drive to replace oil production with agriculture in terms of relative contribution to GDP, the authorities have used oil money to make significant funds available for agricultural regeneration.

Mr Hamid Abdulrahman, General Director, Minister of Agriculture, impressed upon visitors that Kurdistan’s investment law is the most encouraging in the Middle East. Investors can enjoy tax holidays and easy repatriation of profits, and can be reassured by the fact that all business dealings go through the Kurdistan regional authorities, rather than Baghdad.

Existing foreign investors are already paving the way for future development, including those involved in construction, property development, warehousing and logistics. Investors and experts in chain marketing such as packing, juicing and canning, among others, will be attracted by the offer of freehold land for those involved in agri-business.