Final stakeholder's meeting: Achieving long-term sustainability

As the HSAD Project comes to a close, attention now shifts to achieving long-term sustainability: How can lessons learned from the Initiative’s implementation be captured and disseminated? How can Iraq apply these lessons to improve the productivity of its agricultural sector? And how can the Project synthesize its impacts and make knowledge available to other partners – in Iraq and beyond?

These questions, and more, were on the minds of participants at the Project’s final stakeholder’s meeting, held in Baghdad this week. The event also provided an opportunity to take stock and review the achievements of the HSAD team over the initiative’s short life-span.

Despite on-going security concerns and an unexpected cut in funding, HSAD partners were able to achieve an impressive list of outputs and accumulate new knowledge related to agriculture in Iraq. Some of these achievements are summarized below:

The dissemination of improved wheat seeds: Over 17,000 tons of certified seed were produced, which will be distributed over 100,000 hectares this coming season; 3147 metric tons of seed were cleaned and upgraded using mobile seed cleaners, an effective means of improving resistance to disease and pests; and variety evaluation trials were carried out on durum and bread wheat.

Upgrading Iraq’s seed infrastructure: Close to 100 staff in Iraqi ministries were trained on the management of mobile seed processing; over 300 ministerial staff were trained on the production and certification of wheat seeds; seed plants were evaluated by an international expert who provided recommendations for their improvement; and seed equipment and plot seeders were purchased.              

Strengthening date palm value chain: HSAD researchers demonstrated the efficacy of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) against Dubas Bug infestation; trained close to 300 ministry staff, farmers and extension agents on IPM techniques; Ministry of Agriculture staff were sent to India for training on the application of bio-fertilizers and bio-pesticides; and the Project tested and validated solar light traps as a cost-effective, sustainable, and efficient tool against Dubas Bug infestation.

Conservation agriculture and water harvesting: Conventional seeders converted into zero-tillage seeders and tested and validated; farmer demonstrations used to promote conservation agriculture to farmers in Iraq’s Kurdistan Region; completion of assessments on two sites for potential water harvesting and hill lakes; and trainings held on rainwater management in Erbil.

Enabling Institutional and policy reforms: Assisted Ministry of Agriculture in finalizing seed law implementing regulations: developed the ‘Iraq Spatial,’ a geo-spatial ‘one-stop’ resource to inform policies on food security and nutrition; and delivered a study on Iraq’s wheat seed policy, offering recommendations for reform.

Strengthening agricultural extension services: Over 1400 participants (20% female) were trained in effective agricultural extension activities; Agricultural extension agents trained on the production of informational videos; and the initiative introduced a strategy to coordinate agricultural extension and research.

Training activities and workshops: Close to 2200 people received training on agricultural interventions targeted by the HSAD project (at least 20% of participants were women).  

The task now is to capture all this learning and make it available to other agricultural for development initiatives so they can build on these successes and apply this knowledge to their own efforts to raise agricultural production and strengthen livelihoods. How can this be achieved? Information and achievements are being synthesized into working papers and manuals (available in English, Arabic, and Kurdish) which provide instructions on application and ease the process of implementation. A series of communication products, including instructional videos, will also be made available on this website. 

The HSAD Final Stakeholder’s meeting was attended by the Project's partner organizations, including the donor, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Ministry of Agriculture, which led the Project’s implementation, and international organizations that provided expertize and scientific input, including ICARDA and a Consortium of US Universities represented by Texas A&M.