Iraq May Decide to Ban Corn Imports From Nov 2023 


Jun 28, 2023 | Agricultural Markets News

Reading time: 2 minutes

The planting of yellow Corn in Iraq takes place twice a year. Spring Corn is planted from the first week of March until around March 20 in C&S but extends until the end of March in northern Iraq. The spring Corn harvest takes place from June until early July. Autumn Corn planting takes place in the first half of July and is harvested in the second half of November until the end of December.

Post revises MY 2022/23 up to 375 TMT on a harvested area of 80,000 ha due to improved seeds, fertilizer management, and pest control. Post forecasts MY 2023/24 slightly higher to 400 TMT for production due to marginally better rainfall in Iraq. Due to increased demand and an expected improvement in the drought during the coming summer, Post forecasts the ending stock of Corn for MY 2023/24 to be 587 TMT and a revised MY 2022/23 due to increased production.

The MOA does not provide direct subsidized Corn seeds as the private sector usually handles it. The MOA has promoted higher-yielding, hybrid Corn varieties (imported by the private sector from the United States), with yields reportedly at 10 MT/ha. Corn seeds are imported from Turkey, Slovakia, and Spain in small quantities from Holland. However, the Turkish seed is more popular because of its low cost compared to other sources. The cost in the market ranges between 132,000-330,000 ID ($100-$250) per each 50,000 seed count of Corn.

Local farmers deliver Corn crop to the two seed companies — “Mesopotamia Seed Company” and the “Iraqi Seed Company”—at a set price of 500,000 ID. These companies process the grain Corn, dry it, and then sell it to the poultry, aquaculture, and ruminant breeders, to which the MOA pays the subsidy to these two companies. Recently, the private sector also established Corn processing plants, and some farmers are now delivering their products to these private sector plants.

Corn Trade in Iraq

Post revises MY 2022/23 data down to 1.15 MMT based on an increase in other feed grains. Although the poultry industry continues to progress after an almost complete stop, aquaculture is increasing due to the high price of red meat. Therefore, Post forecasts MY 2023/24 slightly up at 1.25 MMT. Poultry mills use most yellow Corn in Iraq; however, the aquaculture sector is steadily increasing. Demand that is not met by local production will be supplanted by imports.

MY 2023/24 Corn imports are to reach 1.1 MMT due to increased demand for feed for both the poultry and aquaculture sector. Feed mills prefer imported Corn, especially of South American origin, due to the quality, moisture rate, and low occurrence of aflatoxins. Iraq’s Corn imports are typically from Argentina, Romania, Ukraine, and Turkey origin. Turkey supplies almost exclusively to northern Iraq via land routes.

Before November 2023, the GOI may ban Corn imports from November 2023 to May 2024 to prevent imported Corn from being mixed with domestic harvest and sold to the MOA at a profit. Previously, MOA purchased local Corn at a fixed price, often above the international price, and distributed the Corn to Iraqi farmers at a subsidized price. The subsidy was lifted in 2021, and farmers can sell their products in the free market.

However, this season, the subsidy was maintained, and the farmers delivered the Corn crop to the MOA companies at 500,000 ID, and the farmers could buy the grain at 400,000 ID. Occasionally, the government will implement temporary bans to protect Corn farmers from low prices driven by surplus products in the market. Feed mills maintain stocks of imported Corn to the mill during the import ban period.

Other sources: USDA

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