My colleague, Roy Ekland and I worked as short term technical advisers for the USAID Agribusiness project (Inma) in Iraq. As a result of our work and Inma's support, commercial strawberry production is now a lucrative option for Iraqi farmers and Iraq has become an important market for the plant materials we supply. Without the courage and initiative of the Inma staff, this industry would not exist. Although still in its infancy, this is a now a robust industry with a sustainable future.
Inma has a broad and positive influence on agribusiness in Iraq and I am concerned about the present status and future of the project after the troop withdrawal. In a recent correspondence with a USAID representative, we had the following exchange:
Now that the troops have left, what INMA projects are still operational?
USAID Agribusiness project ("Inma") is fully operational. There has been no change in operations as a consequence of U.S. troop withdrawal. USAID-Inma continues to work with partners to strengthen sustainability and competitiveness of the agriculture private sector in Iraq. To achieve this objective USAID-Inma conducts the following activities:
- Establish linkages among USAID-Inma supported enterprises and between the enterprises and markets;
- Develop nurseries, consolidation centers and field-based learning centers;
- Support the development of domestic and export marketing strategies;
- Continue to develop enterprise management and technical capacity; and
- Deliver agricultural and business development services across Iraq.