The IBBC Agritech seminar examined the possibilities and opportunities for a modern agricultural industry in Iraq.
Drawing from international NGO insights from the UN's ITC, the World Bank and two of the UK's leading agritech innovation institutions, the distinguished audience heard what technologies and investment are possible for Iraq to embrace. Padraig O'Hannelly, MD of Iraq Business News (IBN) (please see IBN report here) gave a succinct and insightful opening view on the facts and dynamics of agriculture in Iraq.
We learned the ITC intend to invest 23m Euro in the next five years, to prepare and develop the supply chains, Government policy, enterprises, youth engagement and marketisation of agricultural products, while the World Bank initially investing $30m in Infrastructure to prepare for a larger $100m investment.
From the UK's Agri Epi Centre (please see the presentation here) and Rothamsted research institutions we saw how the use of satellite data, internet technologies can manage crops and livestock, and guage condition of soil and use of genetics in dry regions, and the willingness to develop research capacity in Iraq with Universities, and proposed smart farm pilots and private landlords and investors to kick start a long term modernisation of the sector.
Key insights evolved around the under capacity and use of Iraqi land - perhaps as much as 50% of the land is under, or not used for agriculture, and while the population is set to grow rapidly, imports of food are expensive and unreliable, and young people require jobs, there is a compelling argument to develop the sector and diversify the economy from oil.
For example, every job in agriculture provides a further 5 jobs in the food supply chain. Encouraging young people into the industry, not only solves many unemployment issues, but will also drive higher output and the embrace of new technologies for productivity and wealth creation.
The second panel focused on SME's and practical investment initiatives- hearing from Bell Finance and Kapita (please see Kapita's agritech report here) and IAIN for their willingness to invest in appropriate, start up and developed SME's, and from Oxfams' Iraq Innovation hub, where Dhuha Abdlmunem presented three innovative and exciting Iraqi start ups covering Mushroom, Animal feed and IOT management.
Hydro-C ( seed imports) and HK potatoes provided fantastic insights in current state of the art potato production and supply chain developments, with ambitions to provide Iraq with self sufficiency in potato production in the next few years. Tom Williams of British Water and Enebio showed a range of low cost effective sensor technologies, water domes (with low cost investment) for crops, salt production and desalination benefits, as well as waste processing, water and energy production systems that can deliver a virtuous sustainable and profitable system for cities like Basra, Mosul and Baghdad.
All agreed there is enormous potential in Iraqi agriculture, but investment, market supply chains, government policy, training and research, soil care and water provision, as well as modernisation through technology are all required to move forward to what can be a successful and productive future.
The event was attended by the Agricultural ministry, Baghdad University, Dohuk University, IBBC members and a wide range of companies and institutions present in Iraq.
For more information on the speakers and industrial opportunities for investment, please contact IBBC: London@webuildiraq.org