Agriculture and breeding. Agriculture, which still essentially forms the occupation by far prevalent in Iraq, has remained for centuries in a rather backward condition, mainly due to political instability, bad administration and the abandonment of the ancient irrigation practices that the lower delta had made, in other times, one of the most fertile and most populated areas on earth (it is estimated that the Iraq can absorb a population of just under 100 million residents).
Among the crops, cereals are the most widespread, with a prevalence of wheat in N., barley in S., and overall of this over that; rice and corn form the basis of the second growing season, which runs from August to December. Alongside these, only the date palm currently exercises a decisive influence on the country’s economy, and indeed allows Iraq a world record. It is estimated that overall there are no less than 30 million trees here, more than half of which downstream of el-Qurnah along the Shaṭṭ al-Arab: annual production is around 400,000 tons, of which over 1 / 3 destined for export (i.e. 40% of dates worldwide). Much less important, on the other hand, is the contribution given to this by cereals, both because a considerable part of the quantities is destined for internal consumption or is absorbed by the needs of livestock, and because of the still essentially extensive nature of the crops and the consequent low index of unitary products. and finally because, in a country like this one, the trend of the seasons has a very variable influence from year to year on the yield. On the other hand, great hopes are nurtured on cotton, which has proved to be very successful in the lower delta region: with the rational use of artificial irrigation it is hoped that here an average annual production of one million bales can be reached, which, combined with 1- 1 1 /2 million tons of grain, would compensate for the use of the huge capital needed for reclamation and canalization. Unlike Egypt, where the flood of the Nile ceases when winter arrives, the Euphrates and Tigris regime does not benefit summer crops except where their waters, abundant until May, can be captured and distributed. fittingly this season. But, given the character and the violence of these floods and the course of the river beds, which in the lower delta run suspended with respect to the surrounding countryside, the precondition for any success is at least that relative political stability, which allows the regular functioning of practices. irrigation systems that are delicate and in need of continuous, careful surveillance. This explains the rapid decline that followed the Mongol invasions and continued under the Turkish regime, and also the rapid revival that followed the British occupation. The successes obtained therefore give good hope for the future, even if currently cotton is limited to a few hectares (about 500, against 140,000 on which it counts), and by a product that can be considered almost negligible and which barely reached 4000 bales in 1928.
The importance of fruit growing, on the other hand, is not entirely negligible, especially in the regions of the N. (cherries, plums, apricots, figs, peaches, almonds, walnuts) and vegetables, which would certainly have even greater development if they could count on vast markets. outlet, or on industrial treatment in situ.
The zootechnical patrimony is discreet, although essentially limited to sheep (5.5 million heads) and goats (1.5 million) and almost all in the hands of nomads (in the lower delta buffaloes are used in agricultural work). Essentially leathers, hides and wools are obtained, which are also exported and enliven the local trade. The number of camels (150,000 head) is also noteworthy, the most common means of transport for exchanges with the finitime regions and for products of common use.
Production and mining industries. – The resources of the subsoil are not all well known, but an element in itself sufficient to constitute a great wealth is represented by the oil fields, staggered along the eastern border, from the Persian Gulf to Mosul. Two areas have so far been chosen for extraction: the largest and the richest around Kerkūk, where a dozen wells are in operation by the Irak Petroleum Co., and another at Khānīqin, given in concession to the company. homonymous, which also cultivates the adjacent area in Persian territory. Finally to ‛Abbādān, to SE. of al-Baṣrah, an immense deposit was built by the Anglo Persian Oil Co. to collect the oil extracted from the wells of the Maidān-i Nafṭūn region (Persia) of which the Shaṭṭ al-‛Arab represents the natural outlet to the sea. L’ the existence of these reserves and their exploitation have given rise to acute economic-political complications, especially after the war and the consequent disappearance of Germany from the field of competition. Concessions are currently regulated so that just under half of production is controlled by British capital, just under a quarter by France and the same by the United States. However, the divergence of interests is such that only a small part of the available oil is extracted; an increase in production is also countered by the difficulties of communications, which are thought to be overcome by building a gigantic Concessions are currently regulated so that just under half of production is controlled by British capital, just under a quarter by France and the same by the United States. However, the divergence of interests is such that only a small part of the available oil is extracted; an increase in production is also countered by the difficulties of communications, which are thought to be overcome by building a gigantic Concessions are currently regulated so that just under half of production is controlled by British capital, just under a quarter by France and the same by the United States. However, the divergence of interests is such that only a small part of the available oil is extracted; an increase in production is also countered by the difficulties of communications, which are thought to be overcome by building a gigantic pipe – line, joining the Kerkūk area with al-Hadīthah on the Euphrates, and from here branching on one side towards Tripoli, on the other towards Haifa. Current production has fluctuated around 750,000 barrels per year (around 800 in 1929).
The industries are still in the infancy stage, and all poorly equipped; however, besides those connected with oil (Khāniqīn and ‛Abbādān refineries), soap and cigarette factories and those for the treatment of the wool produced in the country, all concentrated around Baghdād, are of some importance.
TRADE and communications. – Singular contrast with the modest economic-political development of Iraq presents the liveliness of trade; this must be placed in relation to the transit function that the country performs with regard to the neighboring regions, maximum of Persia (more than half of Persian exports pass through Baghdād; the transit trade of Iraq in 1926-28 reached an average of 4.5 million pounds per year), with the flat nature of the territory and with the opportunities offered to traffic by the twin rivers. Of these, the most suitable for navigation is the Tigris, which reads less unstable, and has a greater copy of waters; therefore the movement that takes place downstream of Mossul by means of the characteristic rafts (in Arabic quffah) and, to S. of Baghdād, with sailing ships and small draft steamboats. Of the railways, the only non-local one is the one that runs from al-Baṣrah along the Euphrates to Baghdād and from here continues on one side into the Tigris valley, on the other along the oil foothills up to Kerkūk: of the two trunks the first, which was built as part of the famous German Baghdād railway, is now partially being demolished. The junction with Mossul and Naṣībīn must instead take place by means of the second, trunk, which serves one of the richest parts of the country. Overall, the railways measure 1500 kilometers.
The road network, regardless of caravans, is reduced to lorries destined to connect Baghdād with Damascus and Mossul with Aleppo, on which all traffic to the Mediterranean is concentrated.
Regular air services connect Baghdād with Palestine and Egypt on one side, with northern Persia on the other, while a third connection moves from there to the Persian Gulf and India. The only port of Iraq is al-Baṣrah on Shaṭṭ al-‛Arab, the country’s best equipped modern center and the collection point for almost all products destined for export, starting with dates and oil.
The foreign trade of Iraq has marked in recent years the figures (in millions of pounds) which are recorded in the table below. For Iraq 2009, please check hyperrestaurant.com.
In exports, dates and oil occupy a far predominant place; followed by cereals (especially barley), wool, skins, opium, sesame, fruit and wax. Among the imports, in order of value, there are cotton, sugar, metal products of all kinds, fabrics, oils, etc. The trade is for 4 / 5 in the hands of England and India; the latter is directed towards most of the exports, from the first comes over 1 / 3 of imports. The traffic with southern Persia is very important and the part that imports occupy Belgium, Holland and Germany is not negligible, while 20% of exports go to the United States.