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For displaced Iraqi, eggplants offer seeds of hope

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For displaced Iraqi, eggplants offer seeds of hope

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KIRKUK, Iraq (Reuters) – When Myasar Khalil Ali fled Islamic State with his family three years ago one of the handful of possessions he was able to take were green eggplant seeds, which have germinated into a profitable small business. The Iraqi, who once ran a photocopying business in the mainly Turkmen town of Tal Afar, grows the green eggplants next to the blue tarpaulin of Yahyawa camp, in the Lilan district of Kirkuk where he now lives. Ali is one of 3.4 million people internally displaced by violence in Iraq, according to figures from the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. In all, 11 million are in need of humanitarian assistance. Ali sells 1 kg (2.2 lbs) for around 1,000 Iraqi dinars (0.6418 pounds) at the camp’s grocery store, welcome money to help provide for his six children. “After displacement to Kirkuk, I could not find a job to feed my family and my children,” said Ali after watering his little farm. Tending to his narrow farm each day with his children, Ali said he is now able to produce around 20 kgs of the vegetable each day. Eggplants are also called aubergines. Ali said demand for his produce was high from customers both inside and outside the camp, with an aubergine order even coming from Baghdad. “We prepared and planted seeds and we made it a 100 percent success, thank God. I planted an area of some tens of metres near my tent and thank God the produce is very good,” he said.

(Writing by Mark Hanrahan in London; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg)
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