"There is an economic competition not only between Turkey and Iran but also between different countries to export flour to Iraq, but we work to achieve self-sufficiency by our Iraqi mills to produce flour that used in bakery. We can improve our work by investments and install mills for different types of grains."
Ahmad Abdul-Razzak Al-Issa
Director of Iraq State Company for Grain Processing
Iraq is a major importer of grains and consumes around 6 million tons of wheat a year. Iraq imports about 3 million tons of flour a year, meeting almost half of its demand, according to the Trade Ministry. Iraq's grain purchases are controlled by a government body – the Grain Board of Iraq. The Grain Board organizes the receipt of grain and supplies the State Company for Grain Processing with both imported and domestic wheat. This company, another important government entity, delivers the wheat to millers. Ahmad Abdul-Razzak Al-Issa, Director of State Company for Grain Processing, gave an interview to Miller Magazine about the state of the milling industry in Iraq. He emphasized that Baghdad has been working to achieve self-sufficiency by their mills to produce flour. "Therefore, we will improve our work by investments and install mills for different types of grains." he said.
Ahmad Abdul-Razzak Al-Issa, Director of State Company for Grain Processing, answers our questions:
Could you please provide us with some brief background information on your company and its activities?
General Company for Grain Processing is the production and marketing company of the Ministry of Commerce. It is established within the framework of Law No.53 issued by the Revolutionary Command Council Resolution in 1990 and dissolved on 2/8/1990. Beginning the operations on 01.09.1990 with a capital of 40 million then became (600 million ID), it was established to ensure the safety and continuity of operation of laboratories flour, supervision and control and to bakeries and ovens and follow up effectively on the principle 'people's need for food is sacred' and as the bread is the most important food source for the Iraqi citizens.
Could you tell us about the state of Iraq milling industry? How many flour factories are there in Iraq? What is the total amount of wheat processed in your country?
There are fourteen state mills in different provinces of Iraq, including four mills in Baghdad. The state mills produce about 661.000 tons of wheat flour per year. The Iraq's remaining need for flour is produced by private mills, and they are producing about 3.433.260 tons of wheat flour per year.
Can you give us some information about the technologies you use in the mills?
The most state mills that work in Iraq are using Bühler machinery, except one which is using Turkish machinery. And the most of private mills use the Turkish machinery as well.
Iraq is a major wheat importer. Where do you import wheat for flour? Who are your key trading partners in wheat import?
Most of the wheat used in the mills is local wheat but some Australian wheat is imported for mixing with local wheat to increase the equality of produced wheat.
Baghdad aims to encourage investment in its agricultural sector to achieve self-sufficiency in strategic crops such as wheat and barley. The government is planning a $100-billion-investment in transport, energy and also agriculture. What is your share in that huge investment plan? Could you tell about your future investment plans regarding wheat production and milling industry?
We are planning to install new state mills.
Iran has agreed to buy the grain from Russia, and total shipments may reach 1 million metric tons a year. That deal would allow Iran to increase flour exports to Iraq. We know Iraq's flour imports are currently dominated by Turkish supplies. Do you think there will a competition for Iraq market between Turkish and Iranian companies?
There is an economic competition not only between Turkey and Iran but also between different countries for exporting flour to Iraq, but we work to ensure self-sufficiency by our Iraqi mills to produce flour that used in bakery.
Could you tell us changing eating habits in Iraq?
Actually, almost of the meals on the table of an average Iraqi citizen depend on bread. For this reason, the Iraqi government provides the flour to the citizens for free. In addition, pastries are used too much in different occasions in Iraq.
Is there anything you want to add and share our readers?
Our company has many strength points in Iraq because the location of Iraq in the Middle East and its properties in different Iraqi cities. Therefore, we can improve our work by investments and install mills for different types of grains.