Tuesday 7 June 2011


I received the comments below from my friend Dr Jamal Fuad, how is well known in the field of agriculture both nationally and internationally. I have known Dr Jamal for more than four decades and I greatly value his professional view and I can but hope that one day someone will take heed of his comments, which greatly concur with my own opinions and those of other eminent Kurdish agricultural experts, and put them into practice.
I greatly appreciate these comments from Dr. Jamal and those of Dr. M.Ahmed and Dr.M. Berigari too.

Dear Talib,

Well, I am glad that the leaders have finally become aware of the importance of securing our food. Installing a sound agricultural program not only insures our food production, but it also decreases unemployment and leads to a more politically stable country. We are not doing enough to pave the way for drawing a  road map to jumpstart the agricultural activities and utilize the resources available to us, Land and Water.
But as they say the journey of the 1000 mile starts with the first step. So, let us see what are the steps that will lay the foundation of a sound agricultural development program? I think we have yet to initiate this ground work, and that is why I emphasize to get busy in starting this basic ground work.
Let us also emphasize that depending on nature for rainfall to irrigate our winter crops is something of the past, and that we need to secure sufficient surface and ground water, even for such crops as wheat and barley. With respect to livestock and poultry, we need to depend on a sedentary feeding program that will do away with the traditional 30 kilometer daily travel for grazing the cattle in the hills and plains near the villages. Then to develop our fruits and vegetables, we need to establish canning and drying operations to insure proper utilization of such fruits and vegetables, and to encourage more attention to the production of such crops.
laying down a strong foundation and proper justification for improving the agricultural sector.  This ground work requires that we need to get busy achieving it before we can draw an adequate plan for agricultural rejuvenation in Kurdistan. ….
 The steps to be followed are as follows...
Step 1:
The first step starts with laying down our needs of cereals, feed, oil, vegetable and fruits, poultry and dairy products. This should be based on the estimated population of 5 million people. For example, every person consumes annually 100kgms of flour. At 80% extraction this will amount to 125kgms of wheat/person /year, or 750,000 tons of wheat to satisfy the total Kurdish population. At current less than 200kgms/donm production it means we need to plant 3,625,000 donms of land, if we totally depend on rainfall for cereal production. Even that is not so sure and that is why we need to increase yield/unit area through better management (fertilizer/good seeds/weed control, and irrigation).
Step 2:
Such analysis as mentioned in Step 1, should be done for every crop that we grow to identify the bottle necks and determine the agricultural lands needed and irrigation development required in specific areas of Kurdistan.
Step 3:
Once we establish our total needs for food and feed we can check this against available resources of  land, water,  and plan towards identifying production bottle necks for each crop, fruits, and livestock and poultry production and develop means of improving the bottle necks. Such bottle necks could be in the source of cultivars we use or the breeds of animals/cattle, poultry, and sheep that are needed to enhance local production of meat, milk, or poultry.
Step 4:
We all realize that the agricultural labor force has declined and has become very costly. Therefore another solution to increase agricultural production with minimum cost would be through mechanization of agricultural operations. Such mechanization should be in accordance with specific needs of the location where they to be used, with low prices so the farmers can afford buying them. Alternatively, special mechanization centers to be established in known agricultural areas (to be listed at the end of this report).
Step 5:
With agricultural status as they are, financial resources are required to support farmers, and therefore agricultural banks are needed to finance machinery purchase as well as irrigation water, fertilizers, seeds and protective chemicals such as insecticides and herbicides.
Step 6:
No agricultural improvement would be realized without a sound agricultural extension in place, especially in known agricultural centers. The extension service would advise the farmers on the right seeds to plant, the right time to plant it, and its management throughout the growing period, including after harvest measures and marketing to protect the crop from spoilage and damage during transport and storage. After harvest loss amounts to more than 50% of the crops planted. Such losses are due to delayed harvesting, improper storage, transport and marketing.
Step 7:
Identifying the main Agricultural Centers in Kurdistan : Zakho, Duhok, Akra, Erbil plains, including Makhmor, Batas and Dyana, Rania, Bazian,  Shahrazoor, and Garmian are the main agricultural production centers,  while other small pockets exist mainly for fruit production.  (Kirkuk also has great potential which has not been included in this study). What we need for these centers is a complete analysis of their potential, existing bottlenecks for its low production levels and means of their enhancement. Specific water studies are required to check of the possibility of increasing the level of crop production under irrigation. In all these centers we need adequate extension services with qualified subject matter specialists to advise farmers of means of enhancement of crop production levels.
Step 8:
Once we have identified our main agricultural centers, their potential and bottle necks, then we can design specific projects to fit these areas, with specific cost analysis and projected production levels.Once I have the statistical information of available resources, then I can participate in project formulation in line with my experience in the World Bank.
I would like to encourage all Iraqi specilaist in the fiels of agriculture, livestock and food security and safety to contribute to this site and use it as a platform for their views.

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