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.

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