Aerial Spraying to Save Iraq's Wheat, Date Crops Concludes
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May 29, 2006 Operation Barnstormer, part of the Iraqi Agriculture Ministry's program to protect key staple crops from insect damage, wrapped up yesterday with a final day of aerial spraying in the northern Iraqi province of Dahuk, Task Force Band of Brothers officials reported.
Flying low to the ground, an airplane sprays pesticide on wheat crops in the northern Iraqi province of Dahuk. The spraying was part of the Ministry of Agriculture's Operation Barnstormer. U.S. Army photo
(Click photo for screen-resolution image)
The operation began May 16 and covered most of the major agricultural areas in the Iraqi provinces of Karbala, Wassit, Babil, Baghdad, Diyala, Ninewa and Dohuk.
The crops were sprayed with a pesticide to reduce the amount of insect damage to the country's vital wheat and date crops. This was the first aerial spraying operation conducted in Iraq in three years, officials said. With the increased yield that is expected to result from this spraying, Iraq should see a boost in revenues from its date exports and a reduction in the amount of wheat imported to supply the Iraqi citizens.
In the provinces where Task Force Band of Brothers is located, more than 310 square miles of wheat fields and date palm groves were sprayed with pesticide.
The Ministry of Agriculture contracted with a private company to conduct the spraying. Using Soviet-designed helicopters and bi-planes, the company flew low over the trees and fields, distributing the pesticide. Iraqi security forces, with coalition assistance, provided security for the aircraft as the spraying was conducted.
Task force officials said Operation Barnstormer is a success for the Ministry of Agriculture, a step forward in meeting the needs of Iraqis dependent on the agricultural sector and the development of a strong and thriving economy in Iraq.
(From a Multinational Force Iraq news release.)