From Farm to Fork: Europe Day in Iraq highlights country's vital agri-food sector
The Delegation of the European Union to Iraq marked Europe Day in Baghdad today. An event that brought together partners, highlighted the country's vital agri-food sector and efforts that support its sustainable development.
The one-day event was attended by representatives of the various partner ministries and local authorities, UN agencies, international partners, the private sector, unions, and key stakeholders of the agricultural sector.
The EU Ambassador to Iraq Mr. Ville Varjola, stated that:
"This week, we are celebrating Europe Day. It commemorates the 'Schuman Declaration' of 9 May 1950, which paved the way for Franco-German reconciliation and laid the foundations of what is now known as the European Union. Today, the EU continues to work in order to achieve peace also outside its borders.
"History has proven that the development of a robust agricultural sector is one of the most powerful tools to end poverty, boost prosperity, and ensure food security. For this reason, the EU is investing in the development of the entire agri-food value chain in Iraq to promote the needed diversification of its economy. This has proven to be all the more important given the rise in food prices globally, triggered by Russia's unprovoked and unjustified war on Ukraine".
A key feature of the event was an exhibition hall, under the theme "from farm to fork" that displayed an array of different activities and stories from the field. This included booths and stalls run by women from rural areas, as well as partner agri-food companies exhibiting and selling their products. It also included an exhibition on the livestock-dairy value chain.
The event was an opportunity for participants to voice their experiences of working in the sector, whether in terms of forging commercial alliances with buyers or accessing opportunities to develop their entrepreneurship skills and small businesses.
"Thanks for all operating agencies in Iraq and the European Union for providing cooperation to implement programmes that support the agriculture sector," said Dr. Hadi Hashim, representative of the Ministry of Agriculture during the event.
A technical panel discussion with experts from the sector offered an insight into some of the challenges, opportunities and practices in addressing agri-food development through a value chain approach.
The panel discussion served to raise awareness on this new approach, supported by the EU and with buy-in from the Iraqi government, identify a common understanding on how to further support value chain stakeholders to improve competitiveness and unleash the potential in the sector, as well as to present on-going activities carried out through the Agri-food Business Development Programme - AfBDP.
"This is an excellent example of how to support the agriculture sector and how to create synergies among different stakeholders," said Dr. Salah El Hajj Hassan, FAO representative in Iraq, on behalf of Ms. Irena Vojáčková-Solloran, UN Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Iraq, Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator.
The European Union in Iraq funds international partners - the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the International Labour Organization (ILO), the International Trade Centre (ITC), and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)- under the umbrella of AfBDP.
Central to the AfBDP is an agri-food value chain approach that supports stabilisation and governance, while promoting sustainable and decent job creation.