May 28 (Bloomberg) -- Iraq expects its wheat production to fall this year by as much as 16 percent to 1.5 million metric tons because of a drought, forcing it to boost imports to 3 million tons, said Grain Board Director General Hassan Ibrahim.
“Unfortunately, there is a drought this year in the northern provinces,” Ibrahim said in an interview in Baghdad. “Last year production was around 1.78 million tons. This year we expect it to be between 1.5 and 1.6 million tons.”
Iraq consumes 4.5 million tons of wheat and 1.25 million tons of rice a year, he said.
The government is planning tenders to import 50,000 tons of wheat this week and 30,000 tons of rice next week, he said. “Wheat prices are suitable. World wheat production is abundant.”
The government is buying wheat from farmers at 720,000 dinars ($618) a ton, more than double international prices, in an effort to reduce dependence on imports, he said.
The nation has diversified the origins of the rice it is importing to include Argentina, Uruguay and Thailand in addition to the U.S., he said. U.S. rice prices are the “highest,” according to Ibrahim.
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Maher Chmaytelli at email@example.com