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Resorting to solar energy to irrigate olive groves in Iraq

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Resorting to solar energy to irrigate olive groves in Iraq

Replacing them with the fuel drums that were used daily before

agencies    Thursday 3 February 2022 21:04

Solar panels help provide power supply for water pumping (Reuters)

In the olive groves that once stood on the front line between ISIS terrorists and Iraqi forces, Yunus Salman and some farmers are doing what they believe is the future of agriculture in the Middle East: harnessing the power of the sun.

Solar panels he installed last year among 1,500 olive trees in his family's orchard provide power for water pumping and irrigation, providing enough for agricultural production and several hours of electricity a day for their home.

solar panels

Salman says that solar energy has replaced many barrels of petroleum fuels, which were used daily before that.

Salman's farm is located near the village of Al-Fadiliyah in northern Iraq, on the outskirts of the city of Mosul.

Salman tells about his orchard and the trees with passion, saying, "This is all a corm (meaning his trees are bigger than these trees) we sort them out for the candle.

We call it the candle, or the mother, and we plant from it or we keep it in the ground. We cut it down about half a meter so that it grows quickly."

He added that his brother Omar had bought solar panels worth $12,000 and then appealed to the United Nations Development Program for funding to expand the project.

Salman is convinced that solar energy should be the future of agriculture and energy in the Middle East, where summers are getting longer and hotter.

He continued, "The future of Iraq depends on energy, especially if the oil runs out.

We used to hear in the university that in 2030 or 2050 the oil will run out in Iraq.

God Almighty has given us the sun. The sun is present even in winter."

no electricity

Iraq's dilapidated electricity grid usually provides only a few hours of electricity each day, leaving many Iraqis to struggle with summer temperatures of more than 50 degrees Celsius.

Iraq is trying to recover from decades of conflict, international sanctions and mismanagement.

Some of the fiercest and most devastating clashes took place in the battle to defeat ISIS, which seized control of nearly a third of the country in 2014.

Fighting around Mosul between 2016 and 2017 destroyed much of the infrastructure, including a rich agricultural area where air strikes had flattened buildings.

Iraq, one of the world's largest oil-producing countries, relies on the export of crude oil for nearly 95 percent of state revenue.

It is trying to improve the capture of the gas that is emitted during the production and extraction of oil, to achieve greater energy self-sufficiency, but this has not achieved much success.

Gas imports from Iran provide the country's electric power grid with the required fuel, but they stop frequently when energy consumption increases.

Baghdad owes Tehran billions of dollars for energy imports.

Under US sanctions, it must pay those debts in the form of food and medicine.

Salman believes that solar energy can help solve all these problems for his country.

With little cost other than the initial cost of installing the solar panels, his orchard produces about 40 tons of olives annually, and sells some of the production to Turkey and the Gulf states.

energy agreements

He says about production after it increased, "Praise be to God. This is everyone's livelihood. The farmers' livelihood, the farmers' livelihood, the workers' livelihood. And farmers and farmers distribute zakat. They all distribute zakat on olives."

Salman believes that olive cultivation is rooted in the region, even if it is on a small scale in some families. "We have approximately 700 orchards in Al-Fadiliyah, even the one who grows at home can resort to solar energy."

Iraq has signed several agreements to establish solar power plants, including with companies from the UAE, Norway, France and China.

The Iraqi government has not yet responded to a request for comment.

Progress on expanding reliance on sustainable energy sources has been slow so far, but officials in international aid agencies are hopeful that projects like these can help bring about change, especially in official circles.

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