| 2 December 2023, Saturday |

Fires engulf wheat fields, palm orchards in several iraqi provinces

Multiple provinces in Iraq have experienced big fires in recent days, causing damage to wheat fields, fruit orchards, and palm groves.

According to official sources, these fires are believed to be a consequence of the climate disruption witnessed by the nation and exacerbated by intense thunderstorms that contribute to the outbreaks.

Alternative viewpoints did not dismiss the potential involvement of sabotage as a cause of the fires, stemming from conflicts between specific tribes or competition among local factions over land and territorial control.

“We have not yet found any evidence of sabotage being responsible for the fires that have affected some fields,” Agriculture Ministry spokesperson Mohammed Al-Khazai told Asharq Al-Awsat.

He added that fires can occur for multiple reasons unrelated to sabotage, including accidental incidents during harvesting, climate fluctuations, high temperatures, and the challenge of controlling vast areas.

Al-Khazai did not rule out some deliberate fires being carried out by individuals with malicious intent, but he emphasized that these incidents are extremely limited. He noted that this type of fire may particularly manifest in fruit orchards and palm groves.

“The current season has witnessed a significant abundance in the production of strategic agricultural crops (such as wheat and barley), covering approximately 90% of the country’s needs,” affirmed the spokesperson.

Over the past two years, Iraq has witnessed the burning of vast stretches of land during the harvest season of wheat and barley crops. Most of these incidents remain unresolved and the criminal and sabotage nature associated with these occurrences persists.

According to local media reports, around 200 dunums of wheat were set ablaze in Kirkuk province. Another fire affected a wheat field in Samarra city. Additionally, fires engulfed fruit orchards and palm groves in Wasit and Al-Qadisiyyah provinces.

Similar fires also erupted in wheat fields in the Bujwari area of Saladin Governorate.

Reports from Diyala province in eastern Iraq indicate that a fire broke out on the outskirts of Al-Salam sub-district, northeast of Baqubah, the provincial capital, affecting approximately 40 dunums of land.

Mohammed Jabbar Al-Mandlawi, the Director of Agriculture Media in Diyala, stated that “the harvesting campaign has recorded four fires, all of which were incidents possibly caused by electrical contact between wires and poles due to high temperatures or other accidents.”

  • Asharq Al-Awsat