Kurdish farmers gather outside palace to voice concerns to President Salih

Kurdistan Region’s farmers gather at palace of Iraqi president Barham Salih to protest missing payments by Iraqi government on Tuesday, April 16, 2019. (Photo Credit: NRT Digital Media)

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SULAIMANI — Several dozen farmers from the Kurdistan Region gathered in front of the Iraqi presidential palace on Tuesday evening (April 16) to meet with President Barham Salih, but were not received.

The farmers had protested earlier in the day in Baghdad’s Tahir Square saying that the central government had failed to pay them for three years of wheat harvests.

One of the farmers told NRT Digital Media that they were disappointed not to get a meeting with Salih, despite the president’s aides apparently indicating that it was a possibility. They had wanted to voice their concerns directly to Slaih.

“We were so proud that the president is Kurdish and believed that he could deliver our voices. Unfortunately, we are frustrated that we have a Kurdish president now,” one of the farmers said.

Another farmer said that five of their representatives had met with one of Salih’s secretaries.

“Barham Salih has twenty secretaries and nobody is aware of the problems of the farmers,” he added.

The farmers say that the government owes nearly 500 billion Iraqi dinars ($419 million) to the farmers for wheat harvests that they produced in 2014, 2015, and 2016.

The central government buys a large proportion of its wheat from domestic farmers, but the agriculture sector has experienced high levels of disruption in recent years because of the war against Islamic State.

As a result, much of Iraq's rice and wheat is imported. Australia, Canada, and the United States are the primary countries of origin for wheat.

(NRT Digital Media)