Iraq’s trade ministry said on Wednesday it had advised the cabinet that it needed to import one million tons of wheat and 250,000 tons of rice for its food rationing program and to boost strategic stocks in the coming months.
“The crisis committee in the ministry advised the cabinet to secure the needs of the food rationing program and build strategic stocks,” Mohamed Hanoon, trade ministry spokesman, told Reuters.
The trade ministry said on Saturday it needed more money from the budget to build three months’ supply in its strategic wheat and rice stockpiles in the face of the country’s growing corona virus problem.
The wheat import figure is higher than the country had originally planned to purchase from abroad throughout 2020. In December, Iraq said it planned to import 750,000 tons.
The quantities suggested to the cabinet should be enough to cover demand in the coming months and build some stocks until enough supplies of local wheat are available for use around mid-June, Hanoon said. Iraq’s local wheat buying season starts mid-April.
The country needs between 4.5 million and 5 million tons of wheat a year to supply its food rationing program. It mixes local grain with supplies from Australia, Canada and the United States.
Iraq’s grain board, which falls under the trade ministry, holds regular international tenders to import wheat and rice for the rationing program. The program covers rice, flour, cooking oil and sugar.