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Iraq aims to boost grain production

BAGHDAD, March 22 (UPI) -- Baghdad aims to offer perks to Iraqi farmers to produce enough grain to become self-sufficient by 2014, the country's agriculture minister said.

The agricultural sector in Iraq could bring in more jobs for Iraqis who in recent months have protested the lack of employment and basic social services.

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Iraqi meets about half of its grain needs through domestic efforts but the Arab world is struggling to address the fallout from the political fervor threatening some of the region's long-standing regimes.

Baghdad aims to build up its stock of wheat this year and more domestic sources are expected on the market as early as April.

"We are offering incentives for farmers to speed up the process and we welcome foreign investors," Agriculture Minister Ezzeddin al-Dawla was quoted by Bloomberg News as saying.

Iraq's grain board in February agreed to purchase 850,000 tons of wheat from U.S. and Australian markets, Bloomberg adds.

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