Saturday 29 October 2011

Supreme Council for Agricultural Development-Kurdistanاقتراح للجنه عليا للزراعه

For some 18 months I have been advocating the establishment of a Supreme Council for Agricultural Development, Food Security and the Environment in Kurdistan that would be similar, more or less, to the Agriculture Initiative Committee that is headed by the Prime Minister in Baghdad. I must point out at this junction that food security is an integral part of our national security. I have submitted this proposal,(hereunder) prepared with the help of senior colleagues who have a vaste experience in agriculture, but as yet it has not been acted upon. I feel that I have no alternative but to place it on this Blog, as a record of our proposal, and in the hope that someone may act on it at some time.

Supreme Council for Agricultural Development, Food Security and Environment-KRG
In order to coordinate and develop strategies with the aim of initiating meaningful agricultural development projects in the Federal Region of Kurdistan, ensure food security for the growing population, and regulate imports and exports of agricultural commodities in the region, thereby ensuring the safety of products available to consumers throughout Kurdistan, we hereby establish The Supreme Committee for Agriculture Development and Food Security,( hereafter called the Committee.) This Committee will lay down appropriate policies for the adoption of modern production technologies to ensure food security for the population living within Kurdistan..

I. Detailed make up of the Committee:

A. The Committee will be chaired by the President or the Prime Minister, with the Minister of Agriculture and Water Resources as his Deputy.

B. Other members will include:
1. An economist
2. A water and irrigation specialist
3. A field crop specialist with expertise in research and extension.
4. A livestock production specialist
5. A soils and land usage specialist
6. A forestry and range management expert
7. The Head of the Environment Organization.
8. An environmentalist (NGO)
9. A food safety expert
10. A fruit and vegetable specialist
11. An agro-industrial specialist
12. An agricultural mechanization specialist
13. An expert in agriculture or veterinary education

C. At the Committee’s first meeting an Executive Secretary will be selected from among its members. The Executive Secretary will supervise the overall functions of the Committee, arrange meetings, (with the agreement of the Chairman or his Deputy), prepare the Committee’s agenda, keeps the minutes, and follow up the Committee’s decisions.

D. In addition to the permanent members, who could include departmental heads from the Ministry of Agriculture the Chairman, or his deputy, may invite specialists who are well known for their expertise in their specialist field of agriculture for consultation. Invitation may be extended to specific consultants, either Iraqi or non Iraqi, who are employed within Iraq by local or foreign firms either within or outside Iraq, to assist in the formulation of specific projects that the Committee wishes to adopt. Such members will be compensated for their time spent with the Committee and for all other expenses as allowed by law. Further, the Committee may invite to its meetings a Member of Parliament responsible for overseeing agricultural activities for parliament.

E. All decisions made by the Committee are binding to all the Ministries and Institutes within the Kurdistan Federal Region, In any case of variance with Committee’s decision, parliament will be the arbitrator in such decisions and will have the final say on such matters.

F. The Committee must have financial resources and a budget, a few administration staff and an office to accommodate these staff together with transport facilities provided under the auspices of the Prime Minister’s Office. The Committee’s office could be located in the Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources.

II. The Duties of the Committee:
A. Review and amend where required The 5 year Strategic Plan for Agriculture and Water in a logical, chronological sequence with initial priority given to necessary research/extension and education sectors. Decisions can be made to put into action projects from within the remaining time sequence of the plan that are deemed to be workable.

B. Review the structure of the MOAWR to establish the roles of its staff and produce job descriptions. The recommendations for restructuring of the MOAWR that are to go before Parliament could be reviewed by the Committee beforehand.

C. The large quantities of food imports into the country make food safety mechanisms imperative. An agency for food safety, capable of movement between ministries, must be formed to oversee the enforcement of food safety.

D. The Committee should be informed of any proposed importations of staples such as wheat, red meat and poultry, oil, rice, vegetables and fruit. The agreement for importation should not be left to the authority of a sole civil servant.

E. The Oil for Food Program in Kurdistan must be reviewed.

F. Make decisions on agricultural loans through agricultural banks to the farming communities and facilitate the terms of such loans.

G. A liaison network must be established between the KRG Ministries and the central government offices in Baghdad and, if required, members of the Committee could be utilized by the central government.

H. The Committee should become aware of the activities of all international organizations operating in the fields of food security, water, forestry, environmental matters, food safety and the agriculture and veterinary services.

I. In addition the Committee should assist the Agriculture and Veterinary syndicates to execute their duties properly.

J. Assist the parliamentary agriculture committee with its tasks

III. Reasons for establishing this Committee
The current dismal rate of agricultural production in Kurdistan, and large quantities of imports require immediate attention, not only for the safety of the Kurdish population, but also for ensuring a degree of food security levels in the face of an increasing world population and future worries that food items required by the Kurdish population may not be available. If the latter situation arose the Region’s security could be compromised and its freedom jeopardized.

We need to develop the agriculture to ensure food security and to revive the countryside. Villages cannot be rejuvenated if they have no products and no funds will flow into the countryside without agriculture production. It is a dangerous policy to depend on oil revenues to pay for the nation’s food while ignoring local agricultural production. We need to invest the oil money into agricultural advancement through adoption of modern technology to increase crop yields.

However the most important factor in supporting agriculture is through its influence on decreasing unemployment rates which are escalating among our youth. The current unemployment rate is close to 60%, and in addition every office is over employing staff resulting in what is referred to as ‘covered unemployment’. A large number of these staff do little work, or even ignore going to their assigned locations as they get bored because there is not enough work to occupy them.

Supporting the agriculture sector decreases the rate of employment, creates a healthy and a happier society and in addition to ensures local food security and the rejuvenation of the villages that will benefit from the increased production and receipt of funds for the crops, fruits and animals and other agricultural products that they bring to the local market.

The Committee then reviews agricultural policies, initiates useful projects, decides on establishing useful agro industries, and oversees environmental protection in Kurdistan.

Monday 10 October 2011

LAND GRABBING IN KURDISTAN الاستحواذ على الاراضي الزراعيه

Visiting the farm
 Earlier this year I was asked to look into the plight of a farmer who was threatened with the loss of his land for ‘development’. I visited the farm which proved to be just over 60 donims of prime agricultural land that is used for wheat, barley and fruit production as well as sheep, goat and poultry production. The farm had some of the best agricultural land that I have seen in Kurdistan and this year’s crop of wheat and barley was a vivid green against the rich, brown soil.
The river Zab behind the trees
 On one side of the farm is the Zab river and on the opposing side is an irrigation canal so that there is an ample supply of water for the crops and livestock. Yet the livelihood of the families who made their living from this land has been under threat for 2 years because someone wants to build a factory for ceramics on this prime agricultural land that supports eleven families.

Empty Poultry houses &;Brown field behind
The threat to the farm is such that the poultry houses have lain unused for 2 years as the farmer cannot afford to take the financial risk of buying new stock when at any time the families could be thrown out of their homes. Close to this rich farmland (a green field site) is land that has little agricultural value as it has had military camps on it in the past, (a brown field site), that could be used for a factory development. Yet the ‘developer’ refuses to consider this site and is insisting on taking the farmland.The brown field site that could be developed is on the other side of the low hill at the back of this wheat field.
As the government’s adviser for agriculture. I made the recommendation that the farmer’s rights should be upheld and this fertile, prime agricultural land remained in agricultural use and that the brown field site could be used for industrial development. This "development" on the bank of the river will polute the river Zab extensively. 
Agriculture machinary
However the Director of Agriculture in the district  where this farm is located supported the developer’s claim for the land stating that the farmland had a garage on it! The ‘garage’ is the open depot where the agricultural machinery that is hired by the surrounding farms is kept! How can tractors, harvesters, sprayers etc. rank alongside garages for cars! What is present on this farm is a resource of machinery that is vital to local farmers who cannot afford to own the equipment they need access to. Such a facility should be welcomed by any self respecting agriculturist and the farmer should be applauded for providing it.
It is unbelievable that:
  •  A productive farm will be taken away from the farmer who owns it and a business man is allowed to build a ceramic factory on its wheat fields,
  • Eleven families are made homeless and lose their livelihood,
  • Air pollution, ground and water pollution can all occur in the vicinity of ceramic factory. The web sites full of example for such pollution all over the world. 
  • Heavy polution to the river Zab which feed the Tigris river.
  •  Access to the loan of vital agricultural machinery is lost to other farmers in the district.
  • Lack of raw material for ceramic factories has led to closure of most of these factories in Iraq. It does not make sense to start another on the bank of Zab river. 
Thos would not be allowed in other countries where agricultural land is valued and farmers supported. What is even more frustrating is that Iraq has empty factories, including many ceramic factories, on offer to investors, (Iraqi Daily News August 2011).  One can only hope that common sense will prevail and this farm is protected and its fields remain in production. More important that the river Zab will be protected.

( The satellite map shows the green land , the farm, lies between the river and the irrigation canal next to vast brown land . The map also shows the proposed location of the ceramic factory on the bank of the river. This proposed ceramic factory is an invitation to a big pollution scandal that someone will have take responsibility for)

I have supported the fight against land grabbing throughout the world for many years now and added my voice to those that support the cause of the small farmer against those foreign investors who want to take the land from those whose existence depends on it. Now I am trying to stop land grabbing on my own doorstep here in Kurdistan where someone with money wants to take away the land from farming families. It would be immoral and a travesty of human rights if these families have their livlihood snatched away from them.

Wednesday 5 October 2011


While we are working hard to improve agricultural output and obtain some form of self-sufficiency by ploughing money into the sector, endeavouring to raise public awareness, and at the same time, to avoid political propaganda we face an insidious foe that can prevent us achieving our goal. You may now well ask ‘What on earth does he mean?

Let me explain; few months ago I was watching a football match on a local Kurdish TV station, owned by a political party, when the adverts came on. The first advert showed a Kurdish wife making tomato paste when her husband comes home and berates her for not having a meal ready for him because she has been engrossed in the occupation of making the paste as her mother and grandmother had done. He tells his wife to stop wasting her time, shows her a can of tomato puree and says that in future she must buy this superior, imported product as it is better than Kurdish paste. This was immediately followed by a second advert showing a man trying to milk a Frisian cow and telling his friend what effort he puts into looking after the animal so he can have milk for his family. His friend tells him to stop wasting his time and use the imported, commercial product, yogurt is shown, which is better than the local products. The products advertised in these commercials were made in Turkey and Iran.

I have worked in countries, such as Egypt, where such advertisements that promote foreign products as being superior to that produced nationally are considered to be insulting and would never be allowed. Indeed many states would view it as treachery! Yet here these commercials are aired during peak viewing times! I wonder how many of you who have lived abroad have seen adverts that overtly criticise the local product and claim the imported product is superior.

Allowing such adverts to be televised or published in the media is very irresponsible. This damages our endeavours to promote local produce and wean the public from reliance on imports. Kurdish media should support the KRG agricultural efforts and not promote the produce of other nations in any way.


I understand that many people are very keen to do something to help in improving agriculture and food security for Kurdistan. With this in mind I would like to suggest setting up a non government organisations (NGOs) with the specific aim of revitalising the Kurdish villages. We are all too aware that as a result of the activities of Saddam and associated wars we have lost too many of our villages and that young people are leaving rural life to seek employment in the towns or abroad. Villages form the backbone of the countryside and we should do all that we can to encourage the continuation and improvement of village life to sustain the countryside on which our agriculture depends. There are about 1,134 NGOs that receive financial support from the Government but very few of these deal with village life.

Sustaining and improving village life has formed many successful projects that have been set up by the UN agencies and NGOs across the world. The role of women in village life is vital as they traditionally have the care of poultry, rabbits and small ruminants which are used to provide food and income to village families. In addition women, and men, can be involved in traditional crafts that offer a source of income too. As animal production, albeit on a small scale, is important to village families improving animal health as an immediate effect and I was the author of a FAO publication the Primary Animal Health Care Worker (PAHCW) that has been translated into several of the UN languages and used successfully in many countries. It can be easily translated into Kurdish and used in projects aimed at improving primary animal health care in villages.

Areas that could be considered for projects to improve village life are:
1. Poultry production: the backyard poultry offers a source of protein in the form of meat and eggs not only for the family but also as a source of income. The provision of battery or solar powered egg incubators and basic training in poultry production to a village will lead to increased production and a source of revenue to those involved. In addition the project can ensure the continuation of local breeds of birds and the genetic banks they represent.

2. Avian influenza which killed two people in Rania and the heavy handed action of the Government to control the situation has decimated poultry production in the villages of Kurdistan. The rearing of local poultry was a vital part of basic food security in villages for thousands of years and we should do all we can to revive this sector.

3. Small ruminants, (sheep and goats), are a vital source of meat, milk, cheese, wool etc and improving the welfare of these animals will again increase their value for food and provide a source of revenue to the small scale producer. Local breeds of sheep and goats need to be maintained and improved. Training in disease recognition, castration procedures etc can be delivered using PAHCW and in addition cheese production and traditional crafts using the animal products offer an additional avenue.

4. Rabbit meat is consumed in Kurdistan but I have been told that rabbits are only reared in a few villages in Koy and Kirkuk. Introducing rabbit breeding to more Kurdish villages will be a great help for food security and form a good, safe source of animal protein.

5. The formation of co-operations to assist small scale/village cheese and yogurt producers, crafts people etc could be considered as a means of encouraging and promoting the traditional crafts and products in a locality.

6. A traditional handicraft of Kurdish villages is making the material for men’s clothes from goat’s hair and sheep wool. Machinery is now taking over but handcrafted material is preferred and it is much more available than the manufactured product. The production and marketing of this product could benefit from the formation of an organisation.

7. Traditional rug and klim production in villages offers a source of income from exports and the production and sale of these products could be encouraged with the aim of targeting the home and international market.

8. Producing honey by providing hives and training in beekeeping would not only provide a valuable food but assist in safeguarding the honeybee which is a vital pollinator of food crops worldwide.

9. Small simple green houses or polytunnels can be used to lengthen the season of crops and/or amount of crops, produced in a season and would be beneficial to small farmers.

10. The care of woodlands and the revenue that can result from them may also be considered. Walnuts not only give a crop each year but produce a valuable hardwood. So valuable is the walnut that research into the cultivars has been carried out in many parts of the world and could be utilised in revitalising this traditional source of income to Kurdish villages.

11. The idea of Peasant or Small Farmer Banks started in Bangladesh aimed at assisting small farmers to improve production and took off across the world. This concept has been adopted by the Ordogan Party in Turkey however in Kurdistan the banks and parastatal organisations are more ready offer loans for the purchase of a house, Mercedes or refridgerator. How about an organisation providing soft loans to village women to allow them to start their agro/village industry.

12. Government involvement in these  NGOs should be at a minimum. The government can help with providing soft loans to create a revolving fund to maintain an enterprise.

A new office for NGOs has been created and attached to the Prime Minister’s Office should pay attention to those NGOs and agricultural NGOs that offer benefits to villagers and farmers instead of concentrating on those that are politically orientated.

Well, I believe it is time that we think seriously about improving rural life here. It has been done successfully in many parts of the world so why not in Kurdistan. We owe a lot to these villages and the villagers. These NGOs will assist in changing villages of Kurdistan from cosumers back to producers units.

الاستعمار الجديد الزراعي والامن الغذائي-7

الزراعة في العراق إلى أين؟
يعرف الجميع أن الإحصاء أحد أهم الأدوات لصانعي القرار والمخططين لمستقبل شعوبهم، وحسب علمي فإن آخر إحصاء عام جرى بالعراق كان في 1987، فيما لم يشمل إحصاء 1997 إقليم كردستان العراق. وفيما يبدو فإن الإحصاء العام الذي يجري في بلادنا كل 10 سنوات مرتبط ارتباطا وثيقا بالحالة السياسية وتصنيف البشر لمراتب ودرجات وتبعيات ومذاهب. وما يهمني هو الزراعة والأمن الزراعي وارتباطهما بالإحصاءات العامة بالبلاد.إن هذا القطاع يحتاج لإحصاء مفصل كل خمس سنوات؛ وذلك نظرا للتغيرات المستمرة والهائلة التي تمر بها مقومات هذا القطاع مثل المياه والتربة والبيئة والتكاثر السكاني والهجرة المستمرة من الريف إلى المدن ومن المدن إلى المهجر. وكمتابع للأمن الزراعي العراق فإنني للأس لا أجد الكثير عنه اللهم إلا بعض المشاريع الزراعية الصغيرة "الترقيعية" وأخبار عن بعض دول الجوار عندما تزيد من مساحة كمياتنا من المياه المنصرفة لبلادنا أو تقطعها

إن المشاريع الصغيرة العامة والخاصة التي نسمع عنها سوف لن تصمد أمام الكم الهائل والكاسح من الغذاء المستورد عبر الحدود الشرعية واللا شرعية، ليل نهار. ولقد عرفت قبل فترة معلومة صغيرة وهي كون الحكومة الحالية قد تكرمت وخصصت لوزارة الزراعة العراقية 200 مليون دولار من ميزانيتها. وقد قرأت عن هذا الخبر "العظيم"، في عدة مواقع عراقية حكومية!. ربما إنني لا أعتقد أن الزراعة في العراق أقل شأناً مما هي في بلغاريا واليونان ودول أوربية أخرى فإنني سأحاول أن أقارن بين الموجود بالفعل في العراق البلد الزراعي، وفي الاتحاد الأوربي(دول صناعية) وذلك لإلقا ء الضؤ فقط على ما يجري.

في الدول الستة والعشرين بالاتحاد الأوربي هناك 182 مليون هكتار من الأراضي الزراعية فيما لدينا نحن بالعراق 9.5 مليون هكتار أي 5.2 % مما لديهم. وبشكل بسيط فإن الأراضي الزراعية العراقية تعادل ما هو موجود في دولتي بلغاريا واليونان. وفي عام 2007 صدّر الاتحاد الأوربي ما قيمته 25 مليار دولار من السلع الزراعية واستورد مواد زراعية بقيمة 15 مليار دولار. أما العراق البلد الزراعي فقد صدر دولارا واحدا لكل 360 دولار استورد بها موادا غذائية ..وأنا أتألم عندما أذكر هذه الأرقام فلست بشامت في أهلي وبلدي ولكني مستاء من الوضع الزراعي والمائي بالعراق  
يتسلم فلاحو أوربا 78 مليار دولار سنويا كدعم من ميزانية الاتحاد الأوربي، أي ما يعادل نصف ميزا نية الاتحاد. ويتفاوت قدر هذا الدعم من دولة لأخرى؛ فمثلا الفلاح اليوناني البسيط يتسلم 500 يورو لكل هكتار من الأرض، والفلاح في لاتفيا يتسلم 100 يورو. ويبلغ معدل الدعم في أوربا إجمالا 200 يورو للهكتار. فلو كان العراق عضوا في الاتحاد الأوربي فإنه يجب أن يتسلم فلاحو العراق 2 مليار دولار كحد أدنى للدعم. هذه هي المساعدات وليس 200 مليون دولار أو وعود بفتح بنك زراعي

 كما أن وزارة التجارة العراقية تستورد بين 4 إلى 5 مليار دولار سنويا من المواد الغذائية الأساسية، فلو خصص نصف أو حتى ربع هذا المبلغ لدعم الفلاحين العراقيين واعطائهم الفرص لمنافسة اسعار المواد الغذائيه المستورده والمدعمه من قبل الدول المصدره., فإننا سنعطي ساعتها دفعة نوعية مهمة للأمن الغذائي بالعراق. ولكن هذا يحتاج لحملة توعية للمواطنين بأهمية الا من الغذائي، وخطورة الاعتماد على الخارج في الحصول على لقمة العيش، والبدء تدريجياً بفطام الشعب العراقي من غذاء الحصص التموينية

أ.د. طالب مراد

الثلاثاء 16-03-2010

Monday 3 October 2011

KURDISTAN: Grape Varieties Part 1 اعناب كوردستان - تري له كوردستان

جوره كاني تري له كوردستا ن به داخوه كه لكي ليوه رنه كيراوه
There are 46 varieties of grapes grown in Kurdistan including dessert grapes, varieties that are dried to give currants and sultanas and varieties that can be used for the production of juice and wine.

We have the land suitable for these grapes yet unfortunately we are heavily dependent on neighbouring countries for grapes and their products.

I recently visited Lebanon and there I saw a small valley, much smaller than the valleys of Kurdistan, where the land supported vineyards producing well known varieties of grapes for wine production. In addition to the grape production in the same valley were drying and storage facilities for 18,000 tons of potatoes, onions and apples.

The valleys in Kurdistan are larger than those of Lebanon and offer the same potential in terms of the
cultivation of grapes and other crops.