By John Lee.

Wageningen University and Research (WUR) will support six Iraqi universities to develop climate-smart agriculture and efficient water management in Iraq.

Together with the Institute for Water Education (IHE) in Delft and ICRA Global, Wageningen researchers will train academic staff and develop knowledge transfer facilities.

Iraq is one of the focus countries of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. For that reason, the Ministry asked WUR to explore the opportunities for cooperation in Iraq in 2018. Last year, an high-level Iraqi delegation visited Wageningen to discuss the collaboration. The two-year project will address several issues.

Teaching styles

First, the Dutch participants will try to modernize the outdated teaching styles at the Iraqi universities by incorporating group work and practical work in their curriculum.

Secondly, the project wants to organize joint research programs at the six universities. Each of these universities will send a scientist to Wageningen to write a joint research article about water management and climate-smart agriculture in Iraq.

The participants may also develop massive open online courses (mooc’s) to implement knowledge transfer to other universities and development partners.

Salinity problems

Iraq is recovering from the war against IS. Some universities were damaged, some others face a challenge to collaborate with farmers to combat water shortage or salinity problems in agriculture. For security reasons, the training will be held in The Netherlands and project partners will meet in the safe Kurdistan Region of Iraq.

Karrar Mahdi, an Iraqi scientist at the Soil Physics and Land Use Planning group in Wageningen, will coordinate the project. The project has received a budget of 1,3 million euros. One-third of that budget will be spent at WUR to give scientific and educational assistance.

(Source: WUR)

By John Lee.

Wageningen University and Research (WUR) will support six Iraqi universities to develop climate-smart agriculture and efficient water management in Iraq.

Together with the Institute for Water Education (IHE) in Delft and ICRA Global, Wageningen researchers will train academic staff and develop knowledge transfer facilities.

Iraq is one of the focus countries of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. For that reason, the Ministry asked WUR to explore the opportunities for cooperation in Iraq in 2018. Last year, an high-level Iraqi delegation visited Wageningen to discuss the collaboration. The two-year project will address several issues.

Teaching styles

First, the Dutch participants will try to modernize the outdated teaching styles at the Iraqi universities by incorporating group work and practical work in their curriculum.

Secondly, the project wants to organize joint research programs at the six universities. Each of these universities will send a scientist to Wageningen to write a joint research article about water management and climate-smart agriculture in Iraq.

The participants may also develop massive open online courses (mooc’s) to implement knowledge transfer to other universities and development partners.

Salinity problems

Iraq is recovering from the war against IS. Some universities were damaged, some others face a challenge to collaborate with farmers to combat water shortage or salinity problems in agriculture. For security reasons, the training will be held in The Netherlands and project partners will meet in the safe Kurdistan Region of Iraq.

Karrar Mahdi, an Iraqi scientist at the Soil Physics and Land Use Planning group in Wageningen, will coordinate the project. The project has received a budget of 1,3 million euros. One-third of that budget will be spent at WUR to give scientific and educational assistance.

(Source: WUR)

By John Lee.

The Minister of Industry and Minerals, Dr. Saleh Abdullah Al-Jubouri, has said Iraq is determined to achieve self-sufficiency in “various dairy products“.

He made the comments during a visit to the Abu Ghraib Dairy Factory, which is operated by the Ministry’s General Company for Food Products.

The plant has recently been expanded, with the addition of new production lines.

(Source: Ministry of Industry and Minerals)

By John Lee.

The Minister of Industry and Minerals, Dr. Saleh Abdullah Al-Jubouri, has said Iraq is determined to achieve self-sufficiency in “various dairy products“.

He made the comments during a visit to the Abu Ghraib Dairy Factory, which is operated by the Ministry’s General Company for Food Products.

The plant has recently been expanded, with the addition of new production lines.

(Source: Ministry of Industry and Minerals)

After ISIL, Agricultural Production Struggles to Recover in Parts of Iraq

The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) occupied large swathes of Iraqi territory between 2014 and 2017.

The consequences of this occupation are still being felt in many rural areas where agricultural production was used as both a source of political propaganda and income, or destroyed as the group was forced out, a new IOM report says.

It is estimated that the group’s brutal three-year occupation reduced Iraq’s agricultural capacity by 40 per cent.

“It is necessary to prioritize the recovery and development of rural areas as part of our reconstruction and stabilization efforts,” said Siobhan Simojoki, Head of IOM Iraq’s Community Stabilization Unit.

“Agriculture should be considered as an essential facet of the stabilization process and focus on this area can help balance out longstanding rural-urban economic inequalities.”

The report, Rural Areas in Ninewa: Legacies of Conflict on Rural Economies and Communities in Sinjar and Ninewa Plains, published on 28 November focuses on agricultural output in Iraq’s third-largest governorate. Ninewa, in north-western Iraq, is also one of the country’s most fertile areas and has historically been the source of much of its grain and produce.

ISIL benefitted from the 2014 harvest completed in the months before taking over Ninewa; the group then profited from sales of the harvest and rain-fed crops, while forcing workers to continue operating agricultural infrastructure.

Finally, as ISIL was being pushed out, fighting, abuse, and revenge destruction caused severe lasting damage to the agricultural sector in the governorate.

ISIL purposely targeted rural areas for strategic purposes, i.e., access to their own steady food supply and the option to sell off agricultural produce for financial gain, but their overuse and, in some cases, deliberate destruction of agricultural land has had long-term consequences on many rural areas.

Almost two years after the military defeat of ISIL in Iraq, livestock are still missing in Ninewa, agricultural lands remain contaminated with explosives, and necessary machinery is lost or destroyed.

To date, many stabilization and post-crisis development efforts have targeted urban areas. Ninewa’s role in Iraq’s agricultural industry suggests that rebuilding agricultural livelihoods is an essential component to achieving successful stabilization in Iraq.

The presence of historically marginalized minorities in Ninewa’s rural areas is also of great importance, given the sensitivities of ethno-religious tensions related to land ownership; Ninewa Governorate is one of the most diverse in Iraq in terms of the number and prevalence of minorities. The new also report considers tensions in rural areas that have been worsened or ignited due to land and water policies, and agricultural decline under ISIL.

The studies conducted for this report were funded by USAID, within the framework of the project Supporting the Return of Displaced Populations in the Ninewa Plains and Western Ninewa.

Click here to download the full report.

(Source: IOM)

Cabinet approves measures to expedite completion of investment projects

The Cabinet held its regular weekly meeting in Baghdad on Tuesday under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Adil Abd Al-Mahdi.

The Prime Minister briefed the Cabinet on national developments, and underscored that, during this period, ministries and other state institutions will continue to discharge their day-to-day duties and serve citizens.

The Cabinet:

  • discussed recommendations submitted by the Ministerial Economic Council on halting, until further notice, the imports of agricultural produce in which Iraq is self-sufficient.
  • agreed measures to expedite the completion of investment projects across Iraq, and approved a number of exemptions from applicable regulations to enable ministries, public bodies and local authorities to avoid delays to projects.
  • accepted the recommendation of the Ministerial Energy Council and authorised the Ministry of Electricity to sign an amendment to the original contract with China Machinery Engineering Company (CMEC) to complete the 2X630MW Thermal Power Plant Project in Salahuddin Province, and instructed the Ministry of Finance to support the implementation of this project.
  • issued instructions and guidance on the installation of CCTV cameras in commercial outlets, malls, shops, and other facilities.

(Source: Iraqi Govt)

This article was originally published by Niqash. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

The birds, flowers and buffalo are all returning, thanks to heavy rains last winter. Now, locals say, federal funds are needed to improve infrastructure and state services, and to guard against potential flooding.

“I had lost all hope,” says Sawadi Najim, a 54-year-old local of the Jabayesh marshes in southern Iraq. “I thought I was going to see this beautiful place become a desert.”

The drought started in 2012 in Iraq’s famed southern marshes and reached its dry peak around 2015. People lost their businesses and their homes, says Najim, who was forced to leave the area he was born and raised in two years ago. His ten buffaloes went blind, then died of hunger and thirst. “I used to depend on them to make my living,” explains Najim, who moved to the city. “And I also had to stop fishing when the water levels dropped.”

Jabayesh lies about 95 kilometres east of Nasiriya, the capital of Dhi Qar province and covers an area of about 600 square kilometres. The marshes were drained by former Iraqi leader, Saddam Hussein, in the 1990s in an attempt to starve revolutionary Iraqis out of the area and even though waterways were unblocked after 2003, the marshes – home to unique birds, fish and plants as well as farmers and fishermen – have never been the same since. More recently it has been nature that has been an enemy of the marshes.

But, critics suggest, man-made mismanagement of water resources has also played a part. “There’s been a lack of understanding about the seriousness of water management,” suggests Mohsen al-Shammari, a former federal minister of water. “Other useless issues” were the main obstacle to the work of the water ministry when he was in charge, al-Shammari suggests. Additionally there was no unified position on how to deal with Turkey and Iran and their damming practices because of internal political divisions, he notes. The fact that the extremist group known as the Islamic State had control of a major dam in Syria, and caused the level of the Euphrates river to fall, was certainly not helpful either.

But then came 2018 and the heavy winter rains that replenished the marshes. “Water levels are at about 80 percent,” Jassim al-Asadi, a senior manager with Nature Iraq, an local conservation organisation, reports. “In the past, they were at 20 percent, at best.”

The streams and rivers that feed the marshes have been almost full since last winter and the Haditha dam has also been able to release water into them, al-Asadi says. In fact, while locals no longer need be concerned about drought, they should be worried about potential flooding this winter if there is similar or more rainfall, he cautioned.

The Ministry of Water Resources has already been digging trenches that would drain any excess floodwater from dams into the marshes, al-Asadi adds.

For now, the marshes are once again teeming with life. Buffalo herders like Najim have been able to return home, as have fishermen and the craftspeople who use the marsh reeds to produce goods for sale. There has also been an increase in visitors coming to the marshes and boat and restaurant operators are also thriving.

“Thanks to low salinity levels in the water, we have more plant and animal diversity too,” al-Asadi says. Fish species that were thought to have died out have returned, birds are migrating from Europe for the first time in years and water lilies are also growing in greater numbers than ever before.

What the marshes need now is better management, locals say. Since 2016, the marshes have been on UNESCO’s World Heritage list but because of the security crisis caused by the extremist Islamic State group, the federal government had no time to concern itself with tourist facilities or the provision of state services in this area.

However Iraq’s Minister of Culture and Tourism, Abdulamir Hamdani, says that this year around IQD15 billion (around US$12 million) has been allocated in the federal budget to work on infrastructure projects in and around the marshes.

That includes a 37.5 hectare centre for tourist accommodation, which will include a museum focused on the nature and culture of the marshes. After construction is finished the project will also be offered up to investors. “We need to go into partnership with the private sector, the same way other countries do,” Hamdani told NIQASH.

Before any of that happens though, local man Sawadi Najim is just happy to be home. “I feel healthy and happy, “ he says. “I have rebuilt my house [his traditional-style house is made out of reeds and floats on the water] and I look out and see birds and buffaloes bathing in the water. The fishermen have started to return,” he noted, satisfied, ”and soon the sons of my tribe will be back too.”

Today on World Food Day, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) renewed their commitment to supporting the government of Iraq in ensuring that all Iraqis have food security by 2030, with a focus on nutritious food and sustainable livelihoods.

“World Food Day is when we confirm and work to achieve our commitment towards Zero Hunger. In Iraq, FAO will be further cooperating with WFP to provide capacity development and rural income generation programmes for farmers.

FAO is supporting the rehabilitation of water infrastructure, value chains development, the fishery sector and introducing smart agriculture practices in response to country priorities and climate change impact,” said FAO Representative in Iraq Dr. Salah El Hajj Hassan.

The 2019 Memorandum of Understanding between FAO and WFP fosters closer collaboration on longer-term initiatives. Activities will include restoring irrigation canals, instituting sustainable practices such as planting productive trees, and providing inputs such as seeds and tools.

Through such programmes, vulnerable people will receive an income, can get back to work following displacement due to conflict, and continue to farm and grow their own food.

As well as enhanced nutrition awareness for Iraqi citizens, in the coming year, climate change adaptation will be a priority so that communities are better able to recover from climate-related shocks. FAO and WFP are striving to build social cohesion through collective livelihoods rehabilitation. WFP recently reopened its office in Basra to help coordinate activities next year in the south, where vulnerability and poverty indicators are worst.

“In this rehabilitation phase, FAO and WFP are working on livelihoods projects to bring communities together, and contribute to improving long-term self-sufficiency,” said Abdirahman Meygag, WFP Iraq Representative. “We see our climate change adaptation activities as being crucial for food security and the country’s recovery.”

FAO and WFP will also share expertise on information management and assessments, for evidence-based programming that targets the most vulnerable. Programmes are designed together with the government, for and with communities. The two agencies will also coordinate with partners on livelihoods activities, to maximise income-generating opportunities for those in most need.

(Source: UN)

Summary of government measures to boost employment, address housing shortage and support low-income groups

Prime Minister Adil Abd Al-Mahdi on Sunday chaired a meeting of the High Committee for the Distribution of Land.

The Committee reviewed preparations for the distribution of plots of land to low-income groups in Iraqi provinces, and the allocation of more land to build low-cost housing to families in need.

The meeting comes as the Iraqi government continues to implement a series of measures to meet the legitimate demands of recent protests and address the aspirations of the Iraqi people.

The measures include the establishment of a commission of inquiry to investigate the attacks on protesters and the security forces during recent demonstrations, identify those responsible and bring them to justice.

The commission of inquiry comprises senior ministers, representatives of the security forces, the judiciary, the Human Rights Commission and Members of Parliament.

Key measures announced by the Iraqi government

The Iraqi government also announced several initiatives and new policies to boost employment opportunities for young Iraqis, address the housing shortage and provide additional support to low-income groups.

To create new job opportunities, the new measures include:

  • The launch of a three-month training scheme for 150,000 graduates and non-graduates who are currently unemployed but are able work. Trainees will receive a grant of 175,000 Iraqi dinars per month while in training and those who successfully complete the training programme will be offered jobs with several investment projects in Iraq. They will also be offered loans to start their own small and medium size businesses, and business-ready plots of land to start their own industrial projects.
  • Simplifying company registration procedures for owners of new businesses aged 18-35 years and exempting them from any associated fees.
  • Train unemployed young graduates and others wishing to start manufacturing projects, with successfully completing the training programme and wish to start a project receiving funding from the Central Bank of Iraq.
  • Activate the Facilitated Agricultural Credit Fund to provide lending to those who are unemployed but have been allocated land for cultivation.
  • The Ministry of Education to take the necessary measures to contract lecturers on various internship/volunteer programmes and submit a request for financing these measures to be included in the 2020 Federal Budget.
  • On 15/10/2019, the Ministry of Defence will begin receiving online applications from young Iraqis aged 18-25 who wish to join the Armed Forces.
  • The Ministries of Defence and Interior to take the necessary measures to reinstate qualified groups of employees who were dismissed from service.

To address the housing shortage, the measures include:

  • Begin a national house-building programme to build 100,000 housing units across all provinces.
  • The completion of the process to distribute 17,000 plots of land for housing purposes to low income-groups in Basra Province.
  • Directing the relevant authorities to begin accepting applications from low-income groups for the distribution of land plots as decreed by the Cabinet earlier.
  • The establishment of the High Committee for the Distribution of Land.

To support low-income groups, the measures include:

  • Provincial governors and the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs to provide lists of 600,000 in-need families so they can receive social security payments.
  • A grant of 175,000 Iraqi dinars per month to be paid to 150,000 citizens who are unemployed and are unable to work. The payment to continue for three months.

To support farmers, the measures include:

  • Cancelling any accumulated unpaid rent for farmers who lease land from the Ministry of Agriculture for the period up to 31/21/2019.

To ensure rapid implementation of these and other policies, the Cabinet directed the General Secretariat of the Council of Ministers to establish committees in Iraqi provinces.

The committees will report regularly to the Prime Minister and submit their final reports no later than three months.

(Source: Govt of Iraq)