Identifying constraints and initiating reform agendas

The HSAD project presents a range of policy options to Iraq’s decision makers. These options are informed by existing projects and draw on the expertise of ICARDA and project partners in a range of areas: extension and capacity building, cropping and pricing policies, investment scenarios, and natural resource management.  

HSAD’s work in progress is identifying current constraints, and helping decision makers to outline action plans and craft new policies and legislation – from initial drafting phases through to their implementation. 

This approach prioritizes capacity building: it works with officials at Iraq’s Ministry of Agriculture to identify policy and regulatory constraints and initiate an appropriate reform and legislative agenda that is capable of effectively raising the productive capacity of the country’s agricultural sector.

In many dry area countries capacity limitations mean that Ministry officials are unable to effectively assess agricultural policy constraints. Reforms are also held back by an ineffective legal and regulatory framework which prevents the utilization of modern inputs. By not adequately defining the role of government, frameworks fail to identify the potential contributions of the private sector to agricultural development.

HSAD targets policy interventions in five main areas:

  • Improving modern wheat variety seed supplies
  • Supporting the adoption of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) for date palm production
  • Improving fertilizer supply
  • Enhancing conservation agriculture
  • Ensuring the more sustainable and efficient use of water. 


Acknowledging the difficulties that farmers face accessing improved crop varieties, the initiative emphasizes seed reform and a new seed law that can effectively establish standards related to the production, registration, and dissemination of seeds. Proper seed legislation is perceived as one of the most significant barriers to improving food security and agricultural production in Iraq.  

Working alongside Ministry officials, HSAD will identify aspects of Iraq’s seed sector that require reform, and offer a series of recommendations to ensure that farmers can more effectively access improved varieties and thereby raise their productivity and incomes. To improve the performance of Iraq’s seed sector, HSAD recommends that the government address the following issues:

Decentralization:  farmers have to travel long distances to access improved seed which undermines adoption rates. Decentralization of the National Seed Committee would make supplies more accessible and ease distribution to farmers

Gathering information: creating databases that capture information relevant to effective seed distribution such as the number of farmers that require improved seeds or the number of hectares that have yet to be cultivated with certified seed. Regular consultations should also be held with key stakeholders to understand the demand for seeds.

Raising awareness: many farmers are not convinced about the benefits of improved varieties and are unable to reach their full potential. Demonstrations and farmer field schools are needed to overcome resistance and promote adoption for higher productivity and strengthened food security

Research: national agricultural research systems need to produce more varieties and higher quantities of improved seed if farmers are to successfully raise their productivity and incomes

Incentives: strategies to encourage the private sector to participate in the production, distribution, and registration of improved seed varieties. Small-scale enterprises have an important role to play in the development of new varieties crucial to Iraqi food security such as food legumes, forage crops, and oilseed

Regulations: efforts are needed to pursue the completion and implementation of instruments, regulations, and standards pertinent to international codes and ethics of the seed business. HSAD will also provide support and advice to push legislation through the proper statutory channels and help to mobilize the financial and institutional resources required for implementation.