October 14, 2020 | finance & economy

Salt production in Chamchammal still shaken by 2017 earthquake

CHAMCHAMMAL, Kurdistan Region — In the village of Khwelin, Chamchammal district, natural salt is sourced from a salty water well located between the mountains.

The water flows down from the mountains through water pipes installed by the villagers. The farmers accumulate the water in big ponds, and let it dry under the sun for between 10 and 15 days.

'There are two types of salt in Khwelin – the 'upper layer' and 'brown salt',' local salt trader Ahmad Omed explained. 'The upper layer salt is used for domestic purposes and food, while the brown salt is used for livestock and fish farms, and it is the best type of salt.'

The salt is in demand from restaurants, homes, and farmers alike.

At the salt farm, the price of a 25-kilogram sack of salt is 15,000 Iraqi dinars ($12.50). The market price is 20,000 dinars ($16).

Each worker makes 20,000 dinars ($16) for 12 hours work on the farm. They begin work at 5 am.

Local salt worker Ahmad Sabah said that salt production in the area has changed dramatically since a major earthquake struck the Iraq-Iran border in November 2017. The 7.3-magnitude quake killed over 600 people on both sides of the border.

'The amount of salt produced now is about 300 to 400 tonnes per year, but in previous years it was 1,300 tonnes. This change (in production) is due to the earthquake that hit this area at the end of 2017,' Sabah said. 'It caused a major change in the amount and density of the water in these areas. We can say that the consistency is not like what it used to be.

The land and well are owned by the Kurdistan Regional Government's Ministry of Natural Resources. The village rents it from the ministry for 57 million dinars ($4,500) per year.


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