Targeting key policy reforms

One of HSAD’s strategic priorities is to support the Government of Iraq and the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) in the creation of an enabling policy environment to encourage the uptake of new crops and technology packages that can bring more income to farmers and the country’s agricultural sector.

Iraqi agriculture has been in decline resulting in low productivity and degradation of natural resources, affecting the livelihoods of rural communities. But some of these problems can be effectively addressed by policy actions that can have a rapid impact on farm incomes. The five policy areas prioritized by the HSAD Program are (1) expanding the seed supply of improved wheat varieties, (2) supporting adoption of integrated pest management in date palm, (3) improving fertilizer supply, (4) disseminating zero tillage seeders for conservation agriculture, and (5) encouraging public investment in the management of saline land.

HSAD is working with ICARDA’s socio-economic and policy research teams to help the MoA to formulate and implement new policies in these rapid action areas. Work has begun on a feasibility study for making improved wheat varieties more widely available to farmers and on a value chain analysis for wheat and date palm as precursors to the development of clear policies and procedures to enhance their performance.

An important step in the policy shaping process is the assessment of the current policy and regulatory situation. To this end, the HSAD team is working with Iraqi partners to review existing regulations. A baseline survey of the wheat seed and date palm sub-sectors at field, household, community, and sector level is in progress. It will focus on areas where improved technologies are being introduced and will assess productivity, resource use, technology adoption, constraints, income, and land and water degradation.

The HSAD socio-economics team is also looking at the broader issues and future development options for Iraq’s agricultural sector. Iraqi policy makers, ICARDA, and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) are conducting a forecasting exercise that simulates different scenarios that help to better understand how future changes and specific investment choices will affect the national agricultural picture – and what policies can best support this.