Strengthening seed systems in Iraq

The availability of, and access to, high quality seed is an important factor controlling agricultural productivity. In Iraq, like other dryland countries, quality seed maintains rural livelihoods and ensures food and nutritional security.    
Seed systems in Iraq face a number of limitations – in particular a lack of suitable varieties of seed suited to the country’s environmental conditions. There is also a lack of organized maintenance of different seed varieties, and promotion of existing varieties to farmers. Overall, then, the seed systems currently in place lack the full infrastructure they need to function effectively. 
HSAD has been working hard over the past 12 months to overcome the problems faced by Iraq’s current seed systems. Through this work there have been a number of improvements and achievements. 
To increase the amount and availability of quality seeds, the HSAD initiative has sown 2240 hectares, resulting in an expected yield of 7485 tonnes of foundation, registered and certified seed, as well as seed from promising lines. These high quality seeds will be distributed to farmers, and are better suited to the dry, saline environment than traditional varieties, helping to boost harvests. 
In addition to multiplication activities, HSAD has also made two sets of durum and bread wheat available - to be tested in a variety of locations managed by the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) and Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources (MOAWR). HSAD will also continue testing a further 270 varieties. 
In addition, HSAD has also sown seeds of new varieties in 12 locations to address the lack of uptake of new quality seed varieties. Eight areas controlled by the MOA and a further four by the MOAWR have been selected to stage farmer field days at appropriate stages of crop growth to make farmers aware of the new varieties and help boost demand for the quality wheat varieties. 
At government level, HSAD have had a number of meetings with MOA to discuss regulation in support of a National Seed Policy and Seed Law. The meetings – requested by USAID –provided solid policy advice, leading to agreements on nine articles of regulation.