Agriculture serves as the foundation on which many countries build
their economies. For Iraq, agriculture has traditionally been the second
largest employer, after the oil sector. Agriculture is the second
largest component of Iraq's Gross Domestic Product and an important part
of the social structure of rural communities.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is involved in a variety of
trade capacity building and technical assistance activities to help Iraq
revitalize its agricultural sector so it can become an engine for
economic growth and strengthen U.S. market share.
Iraq’s agricultural extension system is one USDA focus. Agricultural
extension links the research and education resources and activities of
government agencies with colleges and universities. These institutions
reach out to interested individuals in rural, urban, or suburban
communities with information about current agricultural practices,
technologies, and research in an effort to address problems and increase
In December 2008, the second phase of the U.S.-Iraq Agricultural
Extension Revitalization (IAER) Project was initiated in Baghdad, Iraq.
The IAER project is intended to facilitate Iraqi rural economic
development by revitalizing its agricultural extension system so that a
private-sector-driven agricultural sector can emerge.
Phase One of IAER
From December 2006 through July 2008, phase one of the IAER project
trained nearly 500 Iraqi nationals through 22 agricultural extension
courses provided by a consortium of five U.S. land-grant universities
working in partnership with Iraq’s Ministry of Agriculture (MOA),
Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE), Ministry of Water Resources and
Irrigation (MOWRI), and related institutions. The five land-grant
universities are Texas A&M University, Washington State University, Utah
State University, University of California at Davis, and New Mexico
The courses were held in Middle Eastern countries near Iraq. Courses
ranged from a few days to 3 weeks and included topics such as arid crop
production development, livestock production and animal health, and
water resources management and irrigation technology. Staff from the
U.S. land-grant universities taught the courses to MOA officials,
agriculture university faculty and students, and extension personnel to
enhance the capacity of small- and medium-sized farmers’ and producers’
production, marketing, and management skills.
A component of the first phase of the IAER project was a small grants
program that provided more than $250,000 to 25 participants. Grants were
awarded based on the merit of the proposal and the feasibility of
implementing lessons learned in an IAER workshop. In addition, some
trainees were provided with laptops, camera equipment, and soil kits to
use in demonstrating the knowledge and skills gained to local farmers
and other extension professionals.
Accomplishments of Phase One
Below are some highlights of Phase One:
Vevian Sh. Yaqo from Dohuk, Kurdistan, attended a 5-day poultry
seminar in Amman, Jordan, conducted by Texas A&M University in 2008.
As a result of this training, Ms. Yaqo and other poultry seminar
attendees applied for and received a technology transfer grant and
met with 204 farmers in 11 different villages to discuss what they
learned. They worked with the Ministry of Agriculture in Kurdistan
to reestablish the Province’s broiler production after it had been
destroyed by the Avian Influenza virus.
Yousif Kh. Khdir from Erbil, Kurdistan, attended the general
course at the Desert Development Center (DDC), American University,
Cairo, Egypt, in 2007 and a field cropping demonstration course
conducted by Washington State University in Aleppo, Syria, at the
International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA)
in 2008. As a result of this training, he applied for and received a
grant to demonstrate his alfalfa cultivation and silage making
project. Mr. Khdir met with 18 farmers in four different villages to
discuss his project. He also wrote an article and hosted a local
television extension program about this topic.
Mohammed Abodi Kareem from Karbala in Baghdad Province attended
the general course at the DDC, American University, Cairo, Egypt, in
2007 and two irrigation courses conducted by Utah State University
in Amman, Jordan, in 2007 and 2008. As a result, Mr. Kareem applied
for and received a grant to raise a variety of crops, including
tomatoes, in a joint greenhouse project with the Ministry of
Agriculture. He also demonstrated greenhouse construction and
irrigation techniques to farmers and other extension agents.
Jalal Sh. Younis from Erbil, Kurdistan, attended the
general course and an advanced horticulture course conducted by the
University of California at Davis (UCD) at the DDC, American
University, Cairo, Egypt, in 2007; a field cropping demonstration
course conducted by Washington State University in Aleppo, Syria, at
ICARDA in 2008; and a post-harvest course conducted by UCD in Amman,
Jordan, in 2008. As a result, he applied for and received a grant to
demonstrate composting techniques to other extension professionals
in his province and met with 27 farmers in seven villages.
Treefa Kamal from Sulymanya, Kurdistan, attended a poultry course
conducted by Texas A&M University in Amman, Jordan, in 2008. As a
result, she applied for and received a grant to demonstrate a
project on small poultry farming for egg production. She trained 200
farmers in one village, focusing on women.
Phase Two of IAER
The second phase of the IAER project will be conducted in two stages.
During the first stage, 60-70 Iraqi extension specialists will receive
up to 8 weeks of advanced extension training at the five U.S. land-grant
universities. The U.S.-based training will use highly specialized,
science-based technology and current extension methodology in areas such
as aquaculture, animal health, dry-land field crops, horticulture, soil
and water management, greenhouse production, and agribusiness and youth
Groups of 10-12 Iraqis will receive the training at one of the five
U.S land-grant universities. The Iraqis will be shown how to develop
instruction materials and curricula. This training will begin in the
late spring of 2009.
The next stage of phase two will begin when the Iraqi extension
specialists return home. They will use the extension skills, knowledge,
and materials that they developed in the United States to train other
extension agents and provide advice to farmers and producers in their
communities. The knowledge gained will improve teaching, research, and
extension at Iraq’s agricultural institutions, and bolster the delivery
of agricultural extension programs at the national and local levels.
Iraqis can then establish up-to-date extension research and training
facilities and provide efficient agricultural extension services that
will promote sustainable economic development for Iraqi farmers and
rural communities. Phase two will conclude in September 2010.
The U.S. Department of State has provided $12.2 million for phases
one and two of the IAER project. Staff from USDA’s Foreign Agricultural
Service (FAS) and Cooperative State Research, Extension, and Education
Service are managing and implementing the project in close collaboration
with Iraqi officials at the MOA, MOWRI, and MOHE.
General information about FAS programs, resources, and services is
available on the Internet at the FAS home page: