Comprehensive Support for Agriculture in Iraq

In Iraq, Qudra 2 provides comprehensive support to the agricultural sector ranging from rehabilitating infrastructure to providing training and agricultural inputs and strengthening local farmers’ organisations. 

In Iraq, Qudra 2 contributes to agricultural development by rehabilitating agricultural infrastructure that has been damaged or neglected. The rehabilitation work covers (i) the extension and rehabilitation of irrigation canals, (ii) maintenance of flood gates and sluices, (iii) water pumping stations, (iv) cleaning and laying concrete around water sources to reduce water losses and secure irrigation for more farms and agricultural areas and (v) warehouse renovation and procurement of large-scale processing machines for olive oil production.

“Before the rehabilitation for the warehouse in Tal Afar, our farmers had to travel to Mosul to pick up any pesticides, seeds or fertilizers subsidized by the government or bought in the market. Travels impose extra costs on farmers who barely make ends meet and it might also create difficulties for them at the checkpoints as these items cannot easily be transferred. With the rehabilitation of the warehouse in Tal Afar, the Directorate of Agriculture can once again provide support the people.”
Mr Salim, Head of Directorate of Agriculture, Tal Afar

Agriculture Training and Grants for Increased Income Generation

The rehabilitation of agriculture infrastructure is complemented by additional agriculture training and in-kind support to ensure increased income generation. Intensive training was provided to 796 vulnerable farmers. Over 650 additional persons have received complementary in-kind support to start or expand food production, including irrigation systems, access to rehabilitated greenhouses, livestock, chicken incubators, seeds and fertilisers, which improve food security for rural families and create income opportunities. A model farm exposes local farmers to novel techniques in regenerative agriculture that can make agriculture more sustainable and resilient to climate change.

The support for infrastructure, training and inputs is complemented by support to farmers’ associations to provide better services to their members.

Implementation of Agricultural Training for 80 Small-Scale Farmers by Local NGO Rwanga in KRI

In order to improve food security, rural economic development, and foster more resilient communities in Iraq, small-scale farmers must be equipped with the knowledge to mitigate risks and adapt to the changing economic and environmental challenges.

Iraq is among the top five countries most affected by climate change. Primarily, increased extreme temperature events and changing rain patterns negatively impact farmers. Consequently, agricultural productivity and diversity have significantly decreased in the last decade. In addition, Russia’s war on Ukraine has aggravated the situation and revealed the dependence of Iraq’s agricultural system on imports of crops and chemical inputs.

In order to improve food security, rural economic development, and foster more resilient communities in Iraq, small-scale farmers must be equipped with the knowledge to mitigate risks and adapt to the changing economic and environmental challenges.

The Qudra 2 programme, and the local NGO Rwanga, will provide 80 farmers, from the two governorates of Sulaymaniyah and Halabja, including women, with a 45-day training programme as recommended by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (MoLSA). Ten days will be practical training, and another ten days will be “Know-About-Business” training.

The training will cover practical solutions to challenges stemming from the current agricultural system and how to adapt to the changing climate while improving productivity.

The training will cover the following topics:

  • Risks associated with the current agricultural system, e.g. monocropping, use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides
  • Improved irrigation methods and rainwater harvesting
  • Small and large animal systems; how to increase productivity and efficiency without the import of external inputs, such as raw materials and automated technological equipment
  • How to improve soil health and soil fertility

In addition, a network between all beneficiaries will be established by conducting practical training on farmland belonging to large landowners.

The training is designed to respond rapidly to the global food crisis. It includes practical and business training sessions to ensure that the theoretical knowledge is understood and can be immediately put into practice, both on the farm and at the market.

When the training is complete, an experienced agriculture expert will follow up with each beneficiary and provide expert guidance to ensure that farmers can overcome any initial challenges.

The training design follows the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (MoLSA) guidelines and is thus approved for any future education or job opportunities. In addition, the training contents will be closely coordinated with the local Directorates of Agriculture (DoA).

People In Iraq Depend On Agriculture and Food Production For Their Livelihoods

Many people in Iraq depend on agriculture and food production for their livelihoods.

Qudra 2 focuses on supporting employment and income generation for the most vulnerable. Together with our local partner, Rehabilitation, Education and Community Health (REACH), eight main irrigation canals have been rehabilitated in Kirkuk, Iraq to create the basis for a more productive agricultural economy. The infrastructure improvements benefit hundreds of farms.

In addition, 62 vulnerable farmers were directly supported through agriculture grants, training and individual veterinary visits and consultations. Also, 33 people received training and in-kind grants. For some, this was seed funding to establish a start-up. In contrast, for others, it was a business development grant for their small business to increase revenue and potentially employ more people.

To show vulnerable farmers alternatives to their current practices that build on their existing resources, the Qudra 2 programme and the experts of Permaculture Resources Ireland have set up a demonstration farm in Ayadiyah, Nineveh. The farm is located on land allocated by the Directorate of Agriculture.

So far, 84 men have received training on permaculture. Trainees were encouraged to value a diversity of crops, taught how to cultivate soil and harvest more water, and how to combine animal and plant systems.

By diversifying crops away from monocultures, farmers can generate more stable incomes and promote sustainability. Building soil, and managing plant and animal systems, reduces their dependency on external inputs such as fertilisers. They will receive a grant to put their learning to practice. The trainees will be supported with monitoring visits and mentoring sessions for the next six months to ensure that the support provided has an impact.

Additional training is planned for 56 women to support them in producing food to meet their families’ basic needs.

Qudra 2 and Permaculture Resources Ireland also provided introductory training for 20 women from Qudra 2’s local partner Amalna Centre in Mosul. The garden of the community centre , which generally provides MHPSS services primarily to local women, was designed together with the women to create a safe, productive, and beautiful space. The garden also demonstrates urban agriculture methods such as growing food in small places, using water efficiently and producing on vertical surfaces – all by reusing materials available at home. A second training phase will focus specifically on creating direct income-generating options.

Harvest Time in Iraq

Qudra 2, in cooperation with the private sector, continues its efforts to get young people into jobs by supporting training courses in sectors where employers are looking for employees.

In Iraq, almost 50% of agricultural production is destroyed before reaching the final consumer. Al-Aghsan Foundation for Agriculture & Environment Development has supported the participants in its greenhouse training to find eco-friendly and economical ways to bring their crops to market.

390 young people who participated in practical training now know better how to pack, transport, and sell their products with fewer losses, helping them to grow their businesses.

Quick Impact Projects (QIPs) Provide a Flexible Response to Emerging Challenges

In Iraq, many schools are confronted with an increased number of students due to large-scale displacement. Some schools run up to three shifts daily, putting pressure on school buildings and contributing to poor learning environments.

Qudra 2 supports local governments’ efforts by rehabilitating schools through Quick Impact Projects to provide students with better and safer learning environments. The work done in school buildings mainly focuses on rehabilitating facilities, electrical safety, waterproofing of roofs, repair of doors and windows and barrier-free access to the classrooms for students with special needs.

The rehabilitation work concluded in Amin Zaki School in Sulaymaniyah included fixing a leaking roof, which immediately reduced class disruptions. Also, the newly constructed cafeteria provides children with a safe space to relax during breaks and interact with peers.

I truly can see the results reflecting positively in our students’ behaviour. Students feel better when they see their learning environment has improved. In the end, students who have a better attitude are more open to learning and work harder,” says Ahmed Abdullah, the principal of Amin Zaki School, which was renovated with Qudra 2.

As of 2022, rehabilitation in six more schools has begun. An additional six school rehabilitations are planned in Duhok, Halabja, Anbar and Nineveh.

Revival of Land Covered with Sadness and Despair

Muhammed Ahmed Abed Khader is a 50-year-old farmer from the Al-Alam district in Salah al-Din Governorate, Iraq. He comes from a family of farmers that have practised agriculture for years. He earns his living with what he grows on his land. Due to power cuts, the high price of seeds, fertilisers and other agricultural supplies, and the lack of government support, his harvest has been lean, despite owning three greenhouses. He views his land as a friend with whom he shares his life.

When he heard that Al-Aghsan Foundation for Agriculture & Environment Development supports greenhouse owners with seeds, fertilisers, and pesticides, as well as following up on the growth of plants and crops, he said, “I can picture a green field again”. Since receiving support from Al-Aghsan, his greenhouses are covered with protective nylon, and he is supported with the necessary supplies to revive his greenhouses.

Al-Aghsan Foundation, with the support of the Qudra 2 programme, provides training to help farmers to cultivate crops in their greenhouses.

Iraq – Employment Promotion and Income Generation

In Iraq, Qudra 2 continues its efforts to get young people into jobs. The programme supports training courses in sectors where employers are looking for employees. Courses are implemented together with the private sector. The focus is on the agriculture sector and hands-on, practical skills training courses on electricity, maintenance, textile manufacturing and poultry production. In total, more than more than 2,300 individuals will receive training.

Qudra 2 supports 106 female and 242 male youth in rural areas to find livelihoods in agriculture. Agriculture is an important employment provider in Iraq’s economy. The support is holistic as young people have the opportunity to work while learning. Furthermore, they are linked to private sector companies and local markets as potential customers.

Qudra 2’s partner, Al-Aghsan Foundation, provides training and livestock to participants. A small greenhouse has been set up for demonstration purposes. Here, students and farmers can learn about new technologies that improve yields while reducing vulnerability to environmental risks. Visitors are exposed to a diverse range of crops which can also increase market access.

Besides agriculture, Qudra 2 cooperates with the private sector and local partners to provide hands-on, demand-driven training courses in health, ICT, agriculture, textile and crafts. A recent electrical training programme, concluded with the private company Future Electric, resulted in all 85 youth from vulnerable backgrounds being employed by the company.

In parallel, as part of our cooperation with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), life skills development for 20 vocational trainers from the vocational training centres of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (MoLSA) has been provided.

Iraq – Quick Impact Projects

Quick Impact Projects (QIPs) – Meeting communities’ basic needs

In health, water, electricity supply and education, Qudra 2 supports local governmental units and civil society organisations’ capacities to deliver transparent and inclusive essential services. Our primary support is delivered through participatory small-scale “Quick Impact Projects” for vulnerable communities.

Local government units were supported to effectively and efficiently identify and act on the needs of their communities. Community members have been actively involved in the planning and implementation of QIPs. Individuals are informed and consulted to identify and prioritise community needs and discuss the QIPs planned in their districts.

Twenty-seven QIPs have been finalised, reaching 85,000 individuals. 90 QIPs are currently ongoing and are estimated to reach an additional 1,620,000 individuals, 35% of whom are refugees, and 50% women. Priority was given to improving water and electricity supply to residential areas, ensuring road safety, access to health services, and adequate education facilities. QIPs have, for example, supported the drilling of deep wells and provision of water to surrounding areas or supporting Primary Healthcare Centres (PHC) by constructing or rehabilitating facilities.

Through our collaboration with our government partners and our local implementing partners, training on technical operation and maintenance of electrical works was offered primarily to youth and women. Additionally, municipal management capacities and community participation are improved to continue beyond the initial QIPs.

Iraq – Supporting Community-based organisations (CBOs) to promote social cohesion

Qudra 2 successfully supported community-based organisations in Iraq to promote social cohesion through projects developed and implemented by local people.

Capacity development for local partners is of crucial importance for Qudra 2. The programme aims to build capacities for local civil society actors and partners, so they are enabled to implement projects that contribute to social cohesion.

We support local actors in locations (e.g., Piramagroon town, Sulaymaniyah governorate or Khurmal town in Halabja governorate in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq) where the technical component of employment creation and income generation is being implemented.

Our partner, Green Kurdistan, a local volunteer association, supports elementary schools in Piramagroon by increasing green spaces, which means an increase in the quality of the environment for more than 500 students and a profound effect on the young generations’ attitude to the natural environment.

In parallel, staff members and volunteers from the organisation participated in management training to increase their capacities and establish organisational structures that can support the implementation of the small project. The effects of this training are expected to benefit Green Kurdistan in their future work. After strengthening the operational skills, professional training was provided to equip Green Kurdistan with tools to deliver environmental education.

In coordination with the local schools and authorities, Green Kurdistan delivered environmental sessions to students and their teachers and involved the whole school in planting events. By working for a common goal, witnessing, and experiencing direct benefits of their actions, this successful greening project contributed to social cohesion in the school in a town where internally displaced people and host community members have been living together for close to a decade.

Halabja Disabled Organisation (HDO), another local partner, aims to create an all-accessible park in Khurmal town, where Qudra 2 has previously improved agricultural infrastructure to support farmers.

HDO has been capacitated in project management skills to realise their primary mission, the effective and efficient inclusion of people living with impairments. It is challenging for people living with impairments to move freely around Khurmal town. There were no recreation areas accessible to everyone before, leading directly to these groups’ social exclusion and isolation. HDO designed a park accessible for anyone living with challenges. The organisation even added raised beds to demonstrate how minor modifications to usual agriculture practices can empower and involve everyone in livelihood activities and assist them to regain control over their lives.

Alongside infrastructure development, HDO organised awareness-raising sessions, broadcasted a video and held sensitisation classes for youth to educate the young generation about the value of social inclusion.

Iraq – Quick Impact Projects (QIPs)

In Iraq, Qudra 2 has transferred the Governorate Development Facility model from the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) to Central Iraq (CI), where 28 Quick Impact Projects (QIPs) have started implementation.

The QIPs are based on the societal demands identified by the community, community leaders (Mukhtars), and sectoral department hotlines. The projects include maintaining water complexes, rehabilitation of electrical networks, sewage network lines maintenance, and school rehabilitation and benefit over 200,000 people and 25 districts in Anbar, Nineveh, and Salah Al-Din.

Through the QIPs, Qudra 2 aims to improve local government institutions capacities to deliver transparent and inclusive essential services in electricity, education, water, sewage, and health.