Tuesday 6 March 2012

A Strategy for Self-Sufficiency of the Essential Animal and Plant Products in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq

By Dr. Mohammed Sa’id Berigari,
 Senior Soil Scientist, USA,
Everyone has the right to work, and to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family including food, clothing, housing, and medical care etc… (Article 23-25 of UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948). Thus, it is the duty and moral obligation of every country to strive to achieve these essential human needs. The industrial countries can afford to import some of the agricultural products in exchange for its exports of industrial commodities. However, the developing world with limited industrial products cannot afford to import food to feed its population except for those endowed with fossil fuel and mineral resources which are nonrenewable, hence subject to depletion on a long run. Therefore, the developing countries should have long- term strategic plans for plant and animal products to feed their populations adequately with well balanced healthy diets and plan for the future of many foreseeable generations.

The Kurdistan Region of Iraq is currently resourceful in fossil fuel and mineral deposits but it should not rely on imports of major agricultural products. There is a definite need for long- term strategic planning for agriculture to adequately supply its population with all types of food. That should include fruits, vegetables, three major groups of crops (legumes, oils, and cereals), and diverse animal products (honey, fish, poultry for eggs and white meat, and cattle; sheep; and goats for red meat; and milk and its products) that should include indigenous species and varieties in addition to adapting new plants and new animals to fill any gap in the nutrition of the population. Embarking on such a long- term planning concerted efforts are needed from scientists and experts of Kurdistan Region in all sectors of agriculture to execute a long- term ambitious plan otherwise the security of the Free Autonomous Kurdistan Region would lie at stake.

As an agronomist I foresee great potentials in increasing crop yields through optimum use of water, fertilizers, pesticides, and certified seeds of well chosen varieties of various crops and fruit trees combined with their proper management. Fortunately most soils of Kurdistan Region have adequate natural drainage, thus are not threatened by salt accumulation to the extent of becoming saline soils. Comparing such soils with those in the middle and southern Iraq where soil salinity is still number one problem facing agriculture. Moreover, water resources in the Kurdistan Region are relatively abundant. Considering these two factors together along with adequate human resources there exist great potential for a diversified modern agriculture to flourish over the entire landscape of Kurdistan Region. Let it be 21 Century Green Revolution portrayed on the plains, hills, valleys, and mountains of the Kurdistan Region.

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