Modernizing Iraq's extension services

A HSAD extension consultant has just finished a review of the extension work ongoing in Iraq. Currently, the main delivery method is through designated centers and farms, which is believed to provide the best way forward in terms of increasing extension capacity. A focal point for the delivery of such services allows infrastructure to be built around this hub, and gives much more potential for further development. One concern of the current state of extension activities is the lack of available extension workers – there are currently 2500 farmers for each of the 1000 extension specialists. HSAD also identified a potential opportunity to interact with rural youth by setting up a framework for after-school activities.

The HSAD program aims to modernize and strengthen the activities currently available to communities and individuals, as well as to increase the breadth of knowledge offered by these courses and activities. To achieve this aim, HSAD has run four training courses in the past quarter on a variety of subjects – information and communication technology, irrigation, youth engagement, and video production.

As part of the youth development training course, lectures were combined with a field trip to meet 21 youths working on an extension farm. During the farm visit participants were split into groups and encouraged to discuss their experiences working with rural young people.

Eight extension staff took part in the two week intensive video production course, which saw the production of two high quality farmer-to-farmer videos. The courses have been so successful that other programs have been set up by the Extension Organization in Baghdad and Babel, with 25 participants so far.

The ICT training program in Erbil was attended by 30 extension workers, and identified the need to renovate the website for the Department of Agricultural Extension and Training. Smaller groups then identified the tasks involved, and designed the framework of the website. The project will continue with participants gathering information until February 2014, when the development of the website will be finalized.