For the second year in a row, hundreds of acres of farmlands in the northern, eastern and southern parts of Iraq were set on fire.
Local sources told the London-based New Arab on May 6 that the fires burned hundreds of acers of wheat and barley in the province of Najaf, in the areas of Azim and Muqdadiya in the province of Diyala and in Baiji in the province of Saladin.
“The losses are huge and they [the fires] are wiping out the agricultural season, which excelled with an abundant of crops,” one of the sources told the outlet.
Local farmers are blaming the government for not providing a sufficient protection for the vast farmlands. Shiekh Jamal al-Abaidi from Diyala told the New Arab that the government needs to make efforts to protect the farms.
“The government is looking at these organized fires and doing nothing, as if it is separating these agriculture issues from security issues,” al-Abaidi said.
Meanwhile, the government appears to be less warried. The Iraqi Ministry of Agriculture claimed that one of the largest fires hit Najaf crops this year was caused by a faulty generator.
The fires began following an announcement by the government that Iraq will be producing 6 million tons of wheat and barley, which is more than enough to cover the country’s needs for the upcoming year.
Some Iraqi officials, including Salam al-Shammari head of the Parliamentary Agriculture Committee, believe that some side is trying to keep Iraq an “importer” of crops.
Last year, ISIS claimed responsibility for similar crops fires in Iraq. The terrorist group’s cells used whatever they could place their hands on, from magnifying glasses to improvised-incendiary devices, to start the fires.
The fires were meant as a punishment to farmers, who had refused to pay Zakat [an Islamic income tax] to the terrorist group. The new fires this year were likely also orchestrated by ISIS for the exact same reasons.