A paragraph taken from the introduction of my Ph.D. Thesis (1974), Liverpool University.
‘‘Nearly 30,000 years ago the domestication of animals and the beginning of agriculture began in Mesopotamia. The region was rich in animals and plant food and man’s number had increased so much that the population became too great for food supply. In order to avoid starvation people began to experiment with planting seeds in areas where they had previously not been found and so began primitive agriculture. Also hunters began semi-domestication of sheep and goats, bringing young animals back to the women to keep as pets. Eventually systematic breeding and killing of animals developed.’’ (The Emergence of man, Pfeiffer,J.E. (1970) Published by Thomas Nelson , London)
I have been obsessed with food security in the Near East Region (Middle East and North Africa) for almost four decades. In the last two years after my retirement from FAO (UN) I was given a chance to advice on Food Security and Agriculture. In reality the food security, food safety and agriculture in Kurdistan and Iraq as a whole are very poor. We import annually 5 – 6 billion US$ of food for the food handouts which started under the Oil-for-Food program that was initiated by the UN and which put the final nail in the coffin of the already ailing agriculture of Iraq. The combined result of depleted agricultural production and easy movement of goods, both legally and illegally, from neighbouring states has resulted in a total complacency toward the loss of Iraq’s food security. The birthplace of agriculture and domesticity of animals, once so famed throughout civilization for its fertility and abundant crops, has become one of the poorest agricultural nations in the world and imports milk from small Gulf states that are too arid for dairy herds.
My sincere hope is that in 2012 the politicians of Iraq and Kurdistan will finally recognize that they must change their words to deeds and put agriculture back on the road to recovery. If they do not do so we will continue to be totally dependent on foreign state of food supplies and with little control over the quality and safety of that food that we and our children eat.