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USAID boosts Iraq horticulture.

Byline: Baghdad

The US Agency for International Development (USAID) began a program to help invigorate Iraq's horticultural industry.

The planting and distribution of 50,000 high-yield grape vine and fruit tree-stock grown in California nurseries is part of USAID's Inma Agribusiness Program to assist farmers in their efforts to revitalise Iraq's once vibrant orchards and vineyards.

'We value the Ministry of Agriculture's efforts and commitment to ensure Iraq's fruit tree industries become competitive in the region and global market,' said Christopher D Crowley, USAID mission director.

He said that planting of commercially viable crops would help generate quicker and better returns for farmers, resulting in a better quality of life.

Agriculture is the second leading industry in Iraq behind oil and is the single largest employer.

Iraq has a land area of about 108 million acres of which nearly 30 million acres are suitable for agriculture; those areas generally surround the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Approximately 495 thousand acres are in tree crops mostly dates, but also some figs, grapes, and olives.

Inma worked with FADO (Future Agriculture Development Organisation) - a group of more than 100 Iraqi farming families - and USAID's embedded Provincial Reconstruction Team members, to assist in planning and preparing the site, manage the spacing of trees, and plant the cuttings.

Early trials on more than 40 orchards and vineyards demonstrated the viability of these crops under prevailing conditions in Iraq. The farmers will receive training this summer on how to prune, take care of trees, and market the resulting products wisely.

Inma works in the provinces and complements USAID's other economic growth programs, in supporting the development of agribusinesses and agricultural markets, improving the livelihoods of farmers.

The project identifies and improves many of the vital links required to raise, harvest, transport and market better quality, higher-value crops and to improve the health and marketability of livestock and fish through better care, feed and technology.

Since 2003, USAID has invested more than $6 billion on programs designed to stabilise communities; foster economic and agricultural growth; and build the capacity of the national, local, and provincial governments to respond to the needs of the Iraqi people.- TradeArabia News Service

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Publication:TradeArabia (Manama, Bahrain)
Date:Mar 12, 2009
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