Strengthening Iraq's seed systems

Iraq’s seed production system has made impressive progress in recent years. Building on this progress, one of the main thrusts of the HSAD program is to lend a hand to help strengthen the production of quality seed in the country. Addressing shortcomings in Iraqi seed production will mean farmers will be able to get good quality seed when they need it.

To kick off this work, in 2013, the HSAD team identified the key constraints in the national seed sector in general and in the wheat seed sector in particular. The constraints included a lack of systems for maintaining and breeding varieties; a limited selection of wheat varieties adapted to environmental stresses; high levels of nematode infection; limited production of barley and legume seed; and a lack of infrastructure in NARS seed programs.

Firstly, the HSAD seed team and partners in the Ministry of Agriculture set to work to produce more seed for immediate needs. During October–December 2013 they supervised sowing 2.24 metric tonnes (t) quality seed harvested the previous season. This should produce nearly 7.5 t quality seed for distribution to farmers in 2014. HSAD also procured 40 t seed for the Directorate of Seed Production and Release to multiply.

In parallel, the HSAD team responded to a request from USAID for advice on seed regulation, meeting several times with Ministry of Agriculture staff to discuss requirements. To strengthen capacity in seed production, in December, HSAD arranged for Iraqi staff to go to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to take part in an ICARDA workshop on community seed production. Also, as part of the capacity building effort, HSAD commissioned a study of capacity and infrastructure in Iraqi seed processing plants and seed production in research stations.

In the coming year, the HSAD team will continue work to make quality seed of wheat available to farmers. This will include evaluating new wheat genotypes introduced from ICARDA and demonstrating newly released wheat varieties. HSAD will also support implementation of the National Seed Policy and Seed Law.