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Reviving Iraq through Conservation Agriculture


Restoration of agriculture is central component of reconstruction efforts in Iraq.

Mosul, April 2018 – Even before the conflict, agriculture’s contribution to the Iraqi economy had been declining due to ineffective policies. And the conflict has pushed the agricultural sector into further disarray. Assessing the damage alone is a complex task. 

But today, there are signs that Iraq’ agriculture maybe coming back, as it begins to employ more people. 

ICARDA has been expanding conservation agriculture in Ninawa province in northern Iraqi city of Mosul. Conservation agriculture is an approach to managing agro-ecosystems for improved and sustained productivity, while simultaneously preserving and enhancing the environment. Through a combination of reduced tillage, crop rotations, and stubble retention, conservation agriculture allows farmers to increase yields while reducing production costs and improving soil health. 

One of the fruits of this effort is locally produced low-cost, zero-tillage seeder (to place seeds into the ground). ICARDA worked with farmers to develop, test, and promote the modified seeders. The farmer-designed technology uses locally available parts and mechanical skills to expand markets for repairs and technical services, and create local jobs. 

The ability to produce low-cost seeders for local markets translates into a tremendous potential for low-income countries where the vast majority of farmers cannot afford expensive imported machinery. Access to affordable seeders means the practices from northern Iraq can be replicated across the region and in Africa and Asia. 

The successful adoption of conservation agriculture in Iraq – and also in Syria – has spurred Australia’s ACIAR and the UN’s IFAD to make further commitment to reviving Iraq’s agriculture.

Agriculture-driven growth would ensure improved food security and less dependence on food import in Iraq where the oil sector dominates the economy; it would also benefit the rural poor, a vulnerable segment of the population.

Watch Abdul Sattar Alrijabo, national coordinator, discuss the conservation agriculture project in Iraq (in Arabic).

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