The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) said it agreed with the Iraqi government to finance a post-war agricultural investment project in Iraq.
The agreement is the fruit of the meetings held here last week by a high-level Iraqi delegation and Khalida Bouzar – IFAD's Director for the Near East, North Africa and Europe, along with her team from the regional Division of the UN agency. The project will target 20,000 rural households in the poorest southern governorates of Missan, Thi Qar, Qadissiyah and Muthana, according to an IFAD press release.
"The rationale for the current project stems from the fragility of Iraq and IFAD's commitment to assist countries with fragile situations," said Bouzar. "IFAD has significant experience in areas in which the Government of Iraq needs assistance, such as agriculture and rural development. "Investment in agricultural growth is not only important to growth in national income, but is also vital to growth in employment, food and nutrition security and reduction of poverty in Iraq," she noted.
During the meeting, Bouzar expressed her confidence that the new project would be a milestone for IFAD and Iraq.
"This will be an example of the stronger and more efficient collaboration that characterizes the renewed partnership between IFAD and Iraq's government," she added.
Iraqi Ambassador Ahmad A.H. Bamarni thanked IFAD for its promptness in creating the project, and said that he believed the project would directly support the Iraqi government's reconstruction efforts following years of conflict.
Implemented by the Iraqi ministries of agriculture, water resources and environment, the new project will enhance resilience to climate change as well as improve the productivity and profitability of small-scale crop and livestock producers by providing access to finance, technologies and remunerative markets.
The meeting between IFAD and Iraqi officials follows an initial high-level meeting held in Jordan in October 2016 where participants developed the first strategic roadmap for investment in smallholder agriculture and rural development in Iraq. It set the stage for identifying the priorities for IFAD's engagement in Iraq, including the main strategic objectives, as well as the framework for the first ever IFAD investment in the country.
IFAD, a specialized UN agency based in Rome, invests in rural people, empowering them to reduce poverty, increase food security, improve nutrition and strengthen resilience. Since 1978, it has provided about USD 18.5 billion in grants and low-interest loans to projects that reached some 464 million people.