It was anticipated that Kurdistan would face a severe drought this year 2010-2011as the rains in the late autumn and early winter of 2010 were late and the rainfall was sparse. The wheat and barley crops have now been harvested has been handed over (highly subsidized) to the few silos for storage.
The amount of rain in Kurdistan always gives an indication of the wheat and barley crop that will be produced. We have kept a record of this year’s rain season, 2010- 2011, and compared it with that of 2009- 2010. (We will publish the amount of wheat and barley sent to the silos following the harvest)
The rainfall across the region was measured every day and recorded at meteorological stations across the country:
1. Erbil: There are 20 collecting points in Erbil. In 2009- 2010 the average rain collected was 544.38 mm. In 2010-2011 the average was 476.19mm a reduction of 12.5% from the previous season.
2. Sulimaniah: There are15 collecting points in Sulimaniah and in 2009-2010 the average rainfall collected was 673.16mm while in 2010-2011 the average was 605.78mm. A reduction of 10% from the previous season.
3. Dohuk: There are 19 collecting points in this region and in 2009-2010 the average rainfall was recorded as 729.24mm. In 2010-2011 the average precipitation was 675.81mm giving a reduction of 6.3% from the previous season.
4. Garmyan: There are 8 collecting points in Garmyan and in 2009-2010 the average rain collected was 465.62mm while in 2010-2011 the average was 276.82mm which is 41% less than that in the previous season.
In Kurdistan the rain in 2010-2011 was 17% lower than that from 2009-2010.A drought committee was established .
On August 3rd 2011 I met with a UNDP mission on drought in my office in Erbil. The mission wanted to discuss what the present situation was in relation to drought and the means of overcoming drought in Iraq.
I was able to tell them that the rainfall this year was better than had been anticipated during the backend of 2010 but the hardest hit section of agriculture was the livestock sector. While the grain harvest would suffer the impact of a reduction in the rainfall.
There are those of us who believe that the climatic changes across the world have resulted in global warming, changes in rainfall patterns and increased drought in some regions while others face flooding. Drought has been the scourge of farmers in the Middle East region since biblical times and we must be ready to face the ever present threat of drought. It is recorded in the Bible that Pharoah’s dream of seven thin cows eating seven fat cows were interpreted by Joseph as a warning that Egypt would have seven years of good harvests followed by seven years of poor harvests and the warning in the dream allowed the Egyptians to prepare for the drought and the poor harvests to come. We must learn to do the same and safeguard our crop production by utilizing irrigation techniques.
However the reduction in annual rainfall in recent years highlights the necessity to introduce irrigation techniques to Kurdish farmers and move the sector into using irrigation as opposed to reliance on rainfall. Unless irrigation techniques are adopted across Kurdistan there will be no improvement in crop production as the current centuries old reliance on waiting for rain has major drawbacks and it is time for new techniques to be established here.