Successive wars, civil unrest and years of economic sanctions have stifled agricultural production in Iraq, with farmers facing shortages of quality seeds and fertilizers, and livestock keepers forced to sell their animals or leave them behind. Some have seen their herds and flocks diminish from disease. Likewise, high food prices have prevented many poorer Iraqis from supplementing Government food rations with fresh, nutritious food.
FAO is working to revitalize crop and livestock production in Iraq – from assisting producers to increase the supply of quality meat, milk and other products in the markets to supporting Government efforts to create more jobs by stimulating growth and diversification in agriculture.
Increasing agriculture growth and employment
Unemployment in Iraq’s agriculture sector is high, especially among the most vulnerable. FAO is working with partners to turn that around, carrying out studies on the agriculture sector – a labour market survey, a value chain analysis, an investment climate assessment, growth diagnostics and a trade market analysis – that will feed into a national agriculture growth and employment strategy. This strategy will, in turn, serve as the basis for future agriculture policies in Iraq – policies aimed at increasing private sector participation and reducing unemployment.
Promoting private sector development
FAO is helping the Government of Iraq push forward with its plan to develop a competitive market-based agriculture sector. To this end, FAO is helping to improve the institutional environment and strengthen the capacity of national stakeholders on policy issues, including the privatization of state-owned agricultural enterprises and land titling, as well as contributing to investment planning for private sector development. FAO has also been assisting vulnerable groups, especially female-headed households, the displaced and the disabled, to develop micro-enterprises in dairy processing and beekeeping.
Boosting food security and incomes
Small- and medium-scale farmers produce about 80 percent of the milk in Iraq, but the lack of marketing channels and quality control systems can mean big losses and public health risks. FAO is supporting efforts to increase production and productivity by introducing innovative cattle breeding techniques and setting up milk collection centres. It is organizing farmers into associations around those centres – a move that will help reduce losses, ensure better quality and expand marketing opportunities. FAO is also promoting the creation of jobs along the dairy value chain – in production, processing and distribution – in rural and urban areas.