Improving farming value chains - supporting Iraq’s smallholder farming communities

Over the past three decades, agricultural research has produced a wealth of practical approaches and solutions that improve productivity and income for communities living in the world’s dry areas. ICARDA and its country partners are applying practices, policies and technology packages in areas such as supplemental irrigation for wheat, integrated crop-livestock systems, new packages of crop varieties, seed delivery systems, and improved farming practices.  

These innovations are at the core of the HSAD-Iraq initiative, the partnership between the country’s Ministry of Agriculture, research community, ICARDA and a consortium of US Universities. The partnership is testing a set of interventions and evaluating their potential to be scaled up to thousands of Iraq’s smallholder farmers.                

The HSAD initiative aims to improve the incomes of Iraqi farmers and agribusinesses by strengthening agricultural value chains. It targets key crop commodities crucial to Iraqi food security and prioritizes women and poor small-scale farmers. The Program also eases value chain constraints and raises the competitive potential of Iraq’s agricultural sector. Activities include improving the delivery of extension services, developing the capacities of beneficiaries, and supporting reforms of agricultural policies, regulations, and institutions. 

HSAD – meaning harvest in Arabic –places Iraq’s Ministry of Agriculture at the center of reform efforts alongside a range of international partners providing support and expertise. HSAD builds on and learns from the results of previous research and extension successes in the region.  The Program also takes a consultative approach, interacting closely with provincial authorities, officials across a range of government ministries, and regional committees – thus ensuring that local needs and priorities are taken into account.

A set of strategic commodities and value chains have been developed in detailed consultations between the Ministry of Agriculture, ICARDA, and US university partners. The initiative also adopts a flexible approach - value chains can be added, switched, or dropped as the project progresses – and works through regional committees to ensure activities reflect local priorities. The Program has prioritized the following agricultural value chains to be implemented in Iraq over the coming years:

  • Cereal products, including wheat and barley
  • Forage products
  • Food legumes, including lentil, chickpea, and fava bean
  • Small ruminant products such as meat and milk
  • Date palm products
  • Horticulture crops