Iraq is currently suffering the most critical water shortage since the earliest days of its civilisation, according to the Guardian newspaper, with up to 2m people in the south facing the possibility of no electricity or drinking water.
In addition to six years of war and occupation, the country has been hit hard by two winters of well below average rainfall. Last year, Iraq received half the annual average, the year before just one-third.
Salah Aziz, director of planning in Iraq's agricultural ministry, commented: "For thousands of years, Iraq's agricultural lands were rich with planted wheat, rice and barley. This year, less than 50 per cent of the land is in use and most of the yields are marginal. This year, we cannot begin to cover even 40 per cent of Iraq's fruit and vegetable demand."
As such, opportunities have recently opened up for nearby exporters. Ali Arjomandi of Dubai-based importer-exporter Marhaba General Trading says that demand in Iraq is rising significantly. "They’ve opened up the market," he told Fruitnet.com. "In the past, we didn’t send any produce to Iraq. Now, people are coming from Iraq to visit us here in Dubai to buy apples and citrus. Most of our customers supply the local Iraqi market, but there are others who also supply the US troops."