Watch | What’s happening to Iraq’s date palms?

A video on Iraq’s date palms

August 04, 2022 05:44 pm | Updated 05:45 pm IST

The date palm is the symbol and pride of Iraq.

Iraq was once known as the country of 30 million palm trees and is home to 600 varieties of dates. The fruit is Iraq’s second-largest export commodity after oil and adds $120 million annually to the national economy.

However, Iraq’s production of dates has been severely affected by environmental challenges, political issues and war.

The war with Iran has hit the production of date palm trees in Iraq. The country had razed entire tracts in the Shatt al-Arab area during its 1980-88 war with Iran.

In Basra, once a centre of date production in Iraq, the number of palm trees has fallen from six million before the war to less than three million today.

Officials accuse Iran of upstream diversions of the Mirzabad River, locally known as Al-Kalal.

Along with conflicts, Iraq also is struggling with droughts, sandstorms, and desertification.

The United Nations ranks Iraq as one of the top five countries most vulnerable to climate change.

Since April this year, the country has seen 10 sandstorms. Desertification already affects 39% per cent of Iraq.

Iraq’s agriculture ministry claims that progress has been made in date palm production.

They say that palm trees have gone from 11 million to 17 million in the last 10 years

A government programme to rescue the date palms was launched in 2010. But eight years later, it was shelved due to a lack of funds.

Currently, Iraq grapples with a political deadlock that has left it without a functioning government for over nine months.

This has halted economic, environmental, and infrastructural projects in the country.

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