Iraq's Deputy Agriculture Minister, Riadh Al-Qaisi, believes that one of the first steps that Iraq needs to take is to invest in drip and sprinkle irrigation. This project would take approximately 4-6 years to complete and save an estimated 3.6 billion cubic meters of water a year.
|Dams along the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, 2009|
Photo: Keith Holmes, University of Victoria
Iraq's southern marshlands have been particularly impacted by the decreasing water. In the 1970s, they covered 8,350 sq. km but since 2010 have shrunk by 45 percent. (In addition to decreasing water, the region has impacted by the attacks waged on the region by Saddam Hussein and oil development.)
The reduction in water has resulted in decreasing agricultural production. Since 2007, Iraq has reduced acreage dedicated to farming rice, wheat and vegetables. Rice is now grown only in the provinces of Najaf, Diwaniya and Muthana and production is an estimated 83,000 tons a year while demand is approximately 1.2 million tons ayear. Wheat demand is 4.4 million tons annually and production stands at only 1.75 million tons annually.
For more see:
"2011 Water in Iraq Factsheet," U.N. Inter-Agency Information and Analysis, March 2011.
“Iraq: Call to adopt modern irrigation techniques,” IRIN, 22 February 2012.