September 16, 2021 | government

KRG bans tomato imports from southern and central Iraq

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region - The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) on Tuesday banned imports of tomatoes from Iraq two weeks after farmers took to the streets to protest low prices for their fruit.

The Minister of Agriculture and Natural Resources Begard Talabani “issued a formal letter to Garmiyan Administration urging them to inform the border crossing not to allow tomato imports in from central and southern Iraq,” a ministry statement said on Tuesday.

“Now is the season of locally grown tomatoes, especially Penjwen’s tomatoes that can meet local need,” it added.

About two weeks ago, farmers in Sulaimani’s Penjwen district on the border with Iran took to the streets to protest cheap, illegal imports that are leaving them unable to sell their produce and accused the government of failing to secure a market for them. One farmer said that Penjwen’s tomatoes alone are enough to meet market needs across Iraq.

Produce from southern Iraqi provinces can be imported into the Region without restriction, while Kurdish traders say they must pay to pass through checkpoints in order to send their fruit and vegetables in Iraqi provinces.

The problem of finding markets for Kurdish fruit and vegetables is an annual problem. Last year, farmers trampled their own tomatoes in protest over low prices, and potato farmers dumped their produce in the street, protesting the presence of banned imports that pushed their produce out of the market.

In May this year, Kurdish produce traders complained that they were having problems selling locally grown fruit and vegetables to the rest of Iraq due to problems with export permits after Iraq’s integrity commission accused Kurdistan Region’s border crossings of not abiding by government import bans on select items meant to protect farmers.

In June, Iraq and the KRG’s agriculture ministry agreed to establish a joint company to market local agricultural products on the condition Kurdistan Region commits to border control.


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