BAGHDAD, Feb. 21 (Xinhua) -- Orange farmers in Diyala, eastern Iraq, feel upset due to big losses despite growing orange production.
Decreasing orange price and increasing imports cause big losses for the farmers, who want a government subsidy policy in the agricultural sector for Diyala, the "town of orange" in Iraq.
Chairman of the agriculture committee in Diyala Haqi Al-Jabbouri told Xinhua that orange production this year was the highest since the U.S. troops invaded Iraq in 2003.
"Orange production this year is very high and met the demand in Diyala and nearby provinces," he said.
"The weather and the big increase in rain fall" in Diyala this season are reasons for the production upsurge, said Jabbouri, adding that no pests were noted this year in contradiction to the previous ones.
However, the escalation in the production did not let the farmers feel happy due to big impact that imports brought about. Orange prices remained between 500 Iraqi dinars (0.42 U.S. dollars) to 700 dinars per kilogram.
Ahmed Al-Shemary, a farmer from Al-Abara region, warns against more decline in orange prices for thousands of Iraqi families.
Al-Shemary said that "4,000 to 5,000 thousand families in Diyala depend mainly on orange, and they will be affected by such price downturn."
"Most of the farmers were much affected by the price decrease on the markets," he said.
Agricultural engineer Mohamad Al-Rabiee said that since 2003, the town lost vast orange farms.
He said the decline in cultivated land was due to drought, security challenges, agricultural pests in addition to dredging which took place in Baaquba areas due to security tension.
The Diyala witnessed violence uprise after 2003 which reached a peak in 2006. Several thousands of families left their possessions and farms, also suffering a drought for several years.
After liberation of the province from the control of IS, the displaced families returned home to resume their orange farming.