Restoration and strengthening the resilience of agri-food systems in Southern Iraq
Key Findings of Rapid Needs Assessment and Identification of Key-Value Chains challenges and Interventions in Basra, Missan and Thi-Qar.
The project 'Restoration and strengthening the resilience of agri-food systems in Southern Iraq' (GCP/IRQ/004/EC) funded by the European Union (EU) and implemented by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in coordination with the Ministry of Agriculture, aims to empower poor smallholder farmers, improve agricultural productivity to strengthen farmers' income and create job opportunities.
As part of the project, FAO organized, in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture in Basra, a workshop to present the findings of the Rapid Needs Assessment on the main value chains development and to agree on interventions in the targeted areas of Basra, Missan, and Thi Qar.
The Rapid Needs Assessment targeted 15,739 households distributed over 530 villages from 18 districts. The main objectives were to identify potential livestock and crops value chains with economic opportunity for income generation and employment, design project intervention priorities and decide on transparent criteria for the selection of beneficiaries to be targeted.
The main challenges for livestock producers identified during the assessment in the south are:
- Very poor milk quality and hygiene standards i.e., due to the absence of cold/cooling milk chain centers, which in turn causes a difficulty to market the milk for remote rural areas, causing a high rate of post-harvest milk and dairy losses mainly during the summer.
- Home processing practiced under unhygienic conditions - i.e., throughout the project areas, home processing of traditional milk products (for family consumption and for sale) is practiced under unhygienic conditions using unsanitary equipment and often with no milk pasteurization.
- Poor feeding system and malnutrition i.e., due to absence of practicing fodder crops, poor quality of grazing and fodders, shortage, and high prices of feedstuffs.
- Poor technical knowledge and skills of farmers and extension workers.
The main challenges faced for crop value chains, mainly date palm and tomato producers are:
- Low crop productivity, especially tomatoes and date palms
- Lack of infrastructure, poor post-harvest management practices and weak marketing mechanisms e.g., cold stores, marketing services and poor post-harvest management practices.
- Water availability and quality, incl. irrigation challenges with water availability and quality, traditional irrigation practises, and poor on farm water use management knowledge.
- Poor technical practices in the production of vegetable crop seedlings and date palm shoots using greenhouses and tissue culture technology.
- The need for capacity development and raising awareness of good agriculture practices among farmers.
The results of the study identified the problems and challenges facing farmers, considering the existing conditions in the country and the region. This provided a basis to review the activities and interventions.
This included discussions on the selection conditions for direct beneficiaries, identifying and approval, which will achieve effective value chains for farmers and contribute to strengthening rural resilience and improving livelihood conditions.
The workshop moderated by Dr. Salah ElHajj Hassan, FAO Representative in Iraq and presented by FAO international experts, Dr. Nakd Khamis and Dr. Chedly Kayouli, contributed to the development of a road map to achieve effective value chains for farmers and contribute to strengthening rural resilience and improving livelihood conditions in the targeted governorates.