Photos: Iraqi truffle hunters brave weather & land mines for desert harvest

  • Zahra Buheir, 72, and her family of seven brave the harsh weather of Iraq's southern desert, as well as left-behind land mines to hunt for seasonal truffles that have provided them with an income for generations. This year the rain came late and Buheir could only find about a kilo of truffles a day, one tenth of what she would dig up in a good year. Remnants from the Gulf war in 1991, unexploded devices beneath the earth also pose a challenge to the truffle hunters in the area. This year, scarcity has pushed up prices and truffles that don't sell locally are exported to wealthier Gulf countries.
PUBLISHED ON MAR 18, 2021 03:53 PM IST 8 Photos
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Zahra Buheir, 72, a truffle hunter, makes bread in the desert in Samawa, Iraq, on March 1. Braving the harsh weather of Iraq's southern desert, as well as left-behind land mines, Buheir and her family of seven have spent weeks hunting for the seasonal truffles that have provided them with an income for generations.(Alaa Al-Marjani / REUTERS)

Zahra Buheir, 72, a truffle hunter, makes bread in the desert in Samawa, Iraq, on March 1. Braving the harsh weather of Iraq's southern desert, as well as left-behind land mines, Buheir and her family of seven have spent weeks hunting for the seasonal truffles that have provided them with an income for generations.(Alaa Al-Marjani / REUTERS)

PUBLISHED ON MAR 18, 2021 03:53 PM IST
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A woman shows seasonal truffles in the desert in Samawa, on February 23. Fetching its hunters up to $7 a kilo this year, Iraq's desert truffle is cheaper than its rarer European cousins that can cost hundreds of dollars or more a kilo, Reuters reported.(Alaa Al-Marjani / REUTERS)

A woman shows seasonal truffles in the desert in Samawa, on February 23. Fetching its hunters up to $7 a kilo this year, Iraq's desert truffle is cheaper than its rarer European cousins that can cost hundreds of dollars or more a kilo, Reuters reported.(Alaa Al-Marjani / REUTERS)

PUBLISHED ON MAR 18, 2021 03:53 PM IST
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A truffle seller interacts with a customer at a market in the city of Samawa, on February 22. With Iraq's economy in crisis, the local variety of truffles are a big help to Buheir and her family. This year the rain came late and Buheir could only find about a kilo of truffles a day, one-tenth of what she would dig up in a good year.(Alaa Al-Marjani / REUTERS)

A truffle seller interacts with a customer at a market in the city of Samawa, on February 22. With Iraq's economy in crisis, the local variety of truffles are a big help to Buheir and her family. This year the rain came late and Buheir could only find about a kilo of truffles a day, one-tenth of what she would dig up in a good year.(Alaa Al-Marjani / REUTERS)

PUBLISHED ON MAR 18, 2021 03:53 PM IST
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Women search for truffles in the desert in Samawa, on February 23. "Rain came, and then thunder, bringing truffles up to the surface," Zahra Buheir told Reuters.(Alaa Al-Marjani / REUTERS)

Women search for truffles in the desert in Samawa, on February 23. "Rain came, and then thunder, bringing truffles up to the surface," Zahra Buheir told Reuters.(Alaa Al-Marjani / REUTERS)

PUBLISHED ON MAR 18, 2021 03:53 PM IST
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A woman extracts truffles in the desert in Samawa, on February 23.(Alaa Al-Marjani / REUTERS)

A woman extracts truffles in the desert in Samawa, on February 23.(Alaa Al-Marjani / REUTERS)

PUBLISHED ON MAR 18, 2021 03:53 PM IST
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Remnants from the Gulf war in 1991, unexploded devices beneath the earth could be mistaken for truffles by the inexperienced eye.(Alaa Al-Marjani / REUTERS)

Remnants from the Gulf war in 1991, unexploded devices beneath the earth could be mistaken for truffles by the inexperienced eye.(Alaa Al-Marjani / REUTERS)

PUBLISHED ON MAR 18, 2021 03:53 PM IST
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Hussein Abu Ali (R), a car driver, carries boxes of truffles in the desert in Samawa, on February 23. Every few days, Hussein Abu Ali, drives into the desert from the city of Samawa to take the truffles to market. There, Ali Tajj al-Din sells them at auction, each with a different name according to size.(Alaa Al-Marjani / REUTERS)

Hussein Abu Ali (R), a car driver, carries boxes of truffles in the desert in Samawa, on February 23. Every few days, Hussein Abu Ali, drives into the desert from the city of Samawa to take the truffles to market. There, Ali Tajj al-Din sells them at auction, each with a different name according to size.(Alaa Al-Marjani / REUTERS)

PUBLISHED ON MAR 18, 2021 03:53 PM IST
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Ra'ad Abdelemir, a trader, sorts truffles in a tent at a market in Samawa, on February 22. This year, scarcity has pushed up prices and truffles that don't sell locally are exported to wealthier Gulf countries, Reuters reported.(Alaa Al-Marjani / REUTERS)

Ra'ad Abdelemir, a trader, sorts truffles in a tent at a market in Samawa, on February 22. This year, scarcity has pushed up prices and truffles that don't sell locally are exported to wealthier Gulf countries, Reuters reported.(Alaa Al-Marjani / REUTERS)

PUBLISHED ON MAR 18, 2021 03:53 PM IST
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