Workshop identifies key issues to boost agricultural growth in Iraq

Held in Amman (Jordan), HSAD recently hosted “Policy Options and Policy Modelling Workshop for Agricultural Growth and Food Security in Iraq,” which brought together researchers, policymakers, and representatives from non-governmental and public organizations across the country. The aim of the workshop was to identify ways of improving key agricultural growth and food security policies and methodologies in Iraq. Policy reform is one of HSAD’s top project priorities and is a core activity of its 2013–2014 program.

Two issues underpinned the workshop, which was co-organized with the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). The first was Iraq’s potential for increasing its development through further investment in agriculture. The second was the question of how the shadow of its oil-dominated economy has not only stunted this potential, but also Iraq’s economic diversification and growth.

The workshop built on growing support for development to reduce poverty, boost economy-wide growth, and improve food security in Iraq through agriculture. Policies and tools for assessing future scenarios for Iraq were identified, and participants stressed the importance of high quality data to develop such policies for sustainable, long term growth. Four main presentations highlighted the challenges facing the agricultural sector of Iraq and agricultural policy.

Discussions flagged several agricultural growth constraints such as low productivity and investment, and data gaps hindering policy reform. Youth unemployment, underemployment of Iraq’s economically active population, and poverty were also acknowledged as factors affecting growth. Input from Iraqi experts resulted in a new list of suggested agricultural activities for policy decision making tools. Specific support for Iraqi officials towards informed decision making was also outlined.