Tuesday 6 September 2011


By : Jamal Fuad, Ph. D. ,Senior Agronomist, Former FAO and WORLD BANK staff,
 Ex-Minister of Agriculture- Kurdistan,
The Oil for Food Programme, enacted by the Security Council in 1995, as much as it saved lives at the time, has been the main obstacle to agricultural development and the main factor that has lead to the demise of the farming activities in Kurdistan.

As early as 2001, I proposed to limit food distribution to only to 80% of the population so that the remaining 20% with moderate income could shop for their needs in the market, thus giving the shattered agricultural sector a shot in the arm. This idea was rejected on the basis that there weren’t even 20% who are able to purchase their food need. However this was not the case. Therefore, the rations distributed to such sort of well to do groups eventually ended up in the market, dipping agricultural commodity prices to a low level that discouraged farmers and made them depend also on the food rations that they were allocated.

This situation and lack of government ability to create agriculture industries brought down the sector to a level that we are importing carrots from Australia, and dairy products, and just about everything else from our neighboring countries.

So, and as long as a sensible way is found out for helping the needy and action taken on the cancellation of the Oil for food programme, Iraq, and Kurdistan included, will remain a backward country, dependent on imports, while the countryside remains devastated as it is now.

Recently a proposal has been advanced whereby the oil for food programme would be substituted for by a coupon system whereby the impoverished sector of the community could use to obtain their monthly rations. My reaction to this proposal is as follows. http://www.kurdistanfoodsecurity.com/2011/08/food-coupons-in-iraq-and-kurdistan.html?spref=tw

 The proposal sounds logical enough, However, I anticipate some problem in its application. Duplication of the coupons could be one of the problem, while its manipulation by certain corrupt groups could distort its application coupon

I am advancing the following idea which I think it might be one way out of the oil for food program:

1. Cancel the Oil for Food program as it exists now which does not differentiate between rich and poor.

2. Instead, announce support to the needy to whomever applies in writing that they need to be supported and request assignment of monthly ration. No one who applies for the ration should be rejected.

3. Lists of people who would be assigned monthly ration will be distributed to shop keepers. Families in the list will be issued a signed letter to a shop keeper of their choice who would dispense the assigned items.

This procedure will have the main advantage of improving the quality of food as the shop keeper will import his own material, and second, frees the Ministry of trade from worrying, and benefiting from large quantities of food being imported.

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