Overview of Iraq Poultry Industry From 1980s Till 2003

IRAQ - Before the economic sanctions of the 1990s, Iraq's poultry industry was expanding to become an important source of protein for its people.
calendar icon 27 November 2003
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Overview of Iraq Poultry Industry From 1980s Till 2003 - IRAQ - Before the economic sanctions of the 1990s, Iraq's poultry industry was expanding to become an important source of protein for its people.

The 1991 Gulf War put a halt to the growth, but the recent overthrow of Saddam Hussein's regime has created new opportunities for the poultry industry. The U.S. Grains Council (USGC) has seized on these opportunities by developing a program that will simultaneously breathe life back into Iraq's poultry industry and build a viable feed grains market for U.S. growers.

USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) recently awarded the Council and the American Soybean Association (ASA) $300,000 through the Global Broad-Based initiative (GBI) program to establish a poultry association which will enable Iraq's poultry industry to disseminate information on a broad array of topics, including: nutrition and feed formulation, diseases and flock health, management and marketing, financing and food safety and standards.

Council staff will begin gathering more information about the poultry and feed sectors in Iraq during an Iraqi poultry producers' roundtable in Amman, Jordon December 13-14. About 10 key Iraqi poultry producers and feed millers are expected to attend the Council-sponsored event. A U.S. grain trade expert and an international banker will give the group an overview of how they can facilitate coarse grain imports in the future now that imports are in the hands of the private sector.

The initiative, Council staff explains, is just one step toward building another market for U.S. grains.

"In 1989, Iraq imported more than 800,000 metric tons of U.S. corn, or roughly 30 million bushels," said Chris Corry, senior director of international operations for the Council. "Our goal is to capture that market share for the United States once again."

A Strong Industry in the 80s

During the 1980s, Iraq became a consistent importer of corn; most of the imports were from U.S. In addition, domestic poultry production increased five-fold during the decade to nearly 270,000 tons in 1989.

Council representatives worked actively in Iraq during the 1980s when Iraq's poultry and sheep industries began developing and the country became a market opportunity for U.S. feed grains exports. Because the political situation in Iraq at the time limited opportunities, the Council focused on the Iraqi poultry sector, developing contacts with key government agencies, the emerging private sector and private traders. Since that time, the Council's Middle East regional office in Dubai has regularly monitored agricultural developments in Iraq.

When government subsidies were discontinued in the 1990s, Iraq's poultry industry collapsed. The industry had begun a modest recovery with new government involvement, however, just prior to the overthrow of Hussein's regime.

On the Road to Recovery

When the United States invaded Iraq last spring, a few large poultry operations under Hussein's control were destroyed. However, most of Iraq's poultry production capacity survived the war undamaged. Today, a dozen large operators and several thousand small, independent producers are trying to restart poultry meat and egg production on their existing facilities without the government controls of the past.

Some of the large companies are partly integrated, owning hatcheries, slaughter facilities, and feed mills, and provide veterinary services, day-old chicks, feed and other services to the small operators. While the large operators built up their businesses under the Hussein regime, they maintained sufficient independence from the Hussein family and Baath Party.

These companies have expressed a desire to form a poultry association with help from the Council and ASA. As the market stands now, Iraq's current production level of meat and eggs can satisfy only a small fraction of consumer demand.

Production of meat and eggs needs to expand rapidly by filling the existing facilities to capacity and then inviting investment to expand capacity. However, there are many constraints to expansion, this includes lack of financing for small and medium-sized producers, a lack of policies, rules and regulations, inefficient facilities and inadequate storage for feed and feed ingredients.

"We're very excited about the prospect of helping the Iraqi people rebuild this industry," Corry said. "We will be laying the groundwork for future developments."

Source: eFeedLink - 27th November 2003

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