Washington D.C.- Upon returning from leading a bipartisan delegation of six House Agriculture Committee Members to Iraq, Congressman Bob Goodlatte, Chairman of the Committee commented on the transition of the food supply chain from the Public Distribution System, under Saddam, to the Coalition Provisional Authority and the Iraqi Ministry of Trade.
“It was a massive undertaking to ensure that in the midst of transition and instability, nearly 27 million Iraqis were fed,” Goodlatte said.
As of October, a staggering two million tons of food have been delivered to Iraq since emergency operations started in April, thereby constituting the largest amount of food assistance delivered in a single emergency operation over such a brief period.
Prior to Coalition operations in Iraq, many predicted that the poor humanitarian situation which marked Saddam’s rule could worsen during a conflict—among the areas of greatest concern were malnutrition and disruption of food supplies.
“Thanks to the extensive planning and distribution of critical emergency supplies by the U.S. Government and the World Food Program (WFP), the humanitarian crisis many feared, simply did not materialize. The logistics in ensuring that all Iraqis were provided for are beyond impressive,” Goodlatte continued.
The U.S. was the most generous donor, to this project and to the World Food Program (WFP) overall, providing 516,800 metric tons of food, worth over $389 million through the WFP. More than half of the food aid distributed by the WFP comes from the United States.
“Ultimately we look to see a democratic, market-driven economy in Iraq, but during this critical time of transition, this is one of the success stories from U.S. and Coalition efforts in Iraq,” Goodlatte said.
Looking ahead prospects for agriculture production in Iraq, leading to increased food production, are very hopeful, Goodlatte continued. Compared to many other countries in the region, Iraq has significant water resources. Iraq is home to the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, the ancient Fertile Crescent, which many call the birthplace of modern agriculture.
Since the arrival of U.S. forces in Iraq, miles of irrigation, canals and ditches have been restored, with work yet to be done, and significantly increased agriculture production is likely in the 2004 growing season which begins in January.