In agriculture, every drop of water counts — and making more efficient use of irrigation has long been a priority for the Iraqi government, USAID-Inma and its beneficiaries.
In cooperation with Iraqi farmers and the Iraqi Ministry of Agriculture, USAID-Inma is providing equipment and training to improve irrigation practices with the goal of increasing crop yields and better managing water resources.
Some Iraqi women vegetable growers find an opportunity in open field commercial vegetable and forage production while disseminating new technology. The Zanabeq Al-Haqel Womens’ Association located in the Ninawa Governorate provides hands-on learning opportunities for area farmers and Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) staff in agricultural production.
Iraq’s vegetable growers are in the middle of a war against an almost invisible enemy: the tomato leaf miner. This nocturnal moth, known as Tuta absoluta, produces voracious larvae so small (7mm) that it is seldom noticed. Within 12-14 days, the larvae hatches and eats its way through the entire plant, rendering the vegetable damaged and completely unmarketable.
The USAID-Inma Agribusiness Program has combined the efforts of the livestock team, irrigation team and horticulture team to develop programs for farmers to increase forage production and demonstrate production, harvesting and storage techniques.
In the southeastern region of Iraq, forage for livestock can be difficult to grow because of the heavy salinity of the soil. Excess irrigation over the years has left the soil with extremely high salinity content. Without proper drainage, the water evaporates and leaves behind large amounts of salt deposits.
There is a growing demand for red meat in Iraq. Before the start of the USAID-Inma program, state harvest facilities in Iraq had stopped processing animals and the input network for feed, veterinary care and other services were fragmented and of limited support to a commercial market. Moreover, no commercial feedlots existed.
In 2009, in an effort to address the red meat issue in Iraq, USAID-Inma initiated the establishment of ten confined feeding facilities for sheep and cattle in several regions of the country.
The Hameediyah Mushroom Farm was established in 1984, just west of the city of Ramadi. The company is privately owned by the Khirbit family. During the 1980s, the business flourished, but sales and production slowed dramatically in 1993 at the start of Operation Desert Storm.
Tragedy struck in 2004, when a bomb destroyed a house on the property. The explosion also killed one of the Khirbit brothers and forced the family to shut down the company for good.
The olive industry in Iraq is beginning to grow and prosper, and much of the credit for the growth belongs to the USAID-Inma Agribusiness Program.
In 2009, in accordance with Congressional mandate to work with religious minorities in Iraq, USAID-Inma specifically targeted funding to help an olive producer in Ninawa province called the Al-Zaytoon Olive Association. The funding, which totaled $700,000, helped fund new equipment, technical assistance and other development needs.
Melons are big in Diwaniyah governorate and getting bigger, thanks to the USAID-Inma Agribusiness Program.
The governorate is one of the major melon producing areas in the country where farmers plant more than an estimated 16,000 donums of melon annually. However, before 2010, only local varieties were grown there, which produced low yields – approximately 2.5 metric tons per donum. These yields were well below the international average of four metric tons per donum.
The fish industry in Iraq floundered over the past decade. Farmers were faced with a multitude of problems including disease, the lack of electricity, poor feed quality, lack of water and several economic hardships, such as high operations costs, low prices and transportation issues.
The fish industry had always been a staple for the nation’s economy, but something needed to be done to revive it.
Business is flourishing for Iraq’s strawberry farmers thanks to higher-yield varieties and new growing techniques provided by the U.S. Government through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The success of this program is an example of US-Iraqi cooperation, under the auspices of the Strategic Framework Agreement, to support domestic agricultural production in Iraq.