Abundant mallow harvest a boon for impoverished Iraqis

Source:Xinhua Published: 2019/2/14 16:08:41

With rain spreading across Iraq, mallow growing in the northern and eastern parts of the country gives impoverished people food to eat or sell for extra money.

Mallow, or Malva pusilla, is a cosmopolitan weed found principally in temperate regions of the world. It is a fast-growing annual or perennial herb with the capacity to grow in dense patches in gardens, yards, roadsides, waste ground, orchards, pastures and agricultural fields.

It grows without any assistance and easily harvested and so is often called the "food of the poor."

It is also delicious and good for one's health.

Thanks to the heavy rain in Iraq, this year mallow spread and were found for collectors to harvest in winter, without any help from farmers.

Some of poor families are able to collect mallow plants and sell them due to its medical value, as it is used to treat some sicknesses and to strengthen immunity.

Haydar Sattar, a member of the local council in Eastern Baquba, told the Xinhua News Agency that "mallows spread tremendously this winter. It reminds me of Iraq from a long time ago."

"Some valleys, close to my hometown of Mandli, 90 kilometers east of Baquba, are now being called mallow valleys due to the spread of the weed," he said.

Arkan al-Nadawi, a local villager, said that "mallows spread this year in wheat and barley fields, and in most of the fields of northern and eastern regions."

"Mallows taste great and most of the people in villages and countryside love it, and it is the dish of the poor," he added.

Monshed al-Zaidy, a government employee, who was standing close to a road in the village of Gazania, 96 kilometers east of Baquba, was helping his wife to harvest mallow plants and keep it in a plastic bag.

"Harvesting mallows rings a bell. It reminds me of the good old days when my family and I lived in a village. It is a traditional food to eat but it has some special memories to me when I was a child," he said.

In Salahudin Province in northeastern Iraq, on the road leading to Tikrit, the provincial capital near Kirkuk, there were several families harvesting mallows. Some were planning to sell the harvest. 

Some of the elderly, suffering from chronic disease, such as diabetes and blood pressure, seek mallows as the best food for their medical cases.

Dawood Ghanem, 55, a farmer, said mallows this year flourished in Iraq, thanks to the heavy rains and marvelous weather.

"People living in the cities, especially the poor ones, come to the villages and harvest mallows for food," he said.

Eissa Kamel Abu Abbas, a grocer in Baquba market, said many families collect mallows to sell. 

"We resell them at 750 dinars (63 cents) per kilogram."




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