Towards the Development of the Agricultural Sector
The Ministry of Agriculture in cooperation with UNESCO and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) organized a workshop centred on supporting employment and growth in the agricultural sector in Iraq, studying the sector’s labour force and its investment climate. As well as experts from both organizations, among those present at the workshop also included a representative of the Ministry of Agriculture, Dr. Subhi Mansoor Al-Jumaili, the Administrative and Financial Agent, Dr. Gazi Radi Al-Aboodi, Dr. Faisal Rashid Nasir, the Ministers Consultant and Dr. Qutaiba Mohamed Hassan, Director General of the Ministry of Planning.
Ms. Nidal Al-Kathem, Project Coordinator of UNESCO began the workshop with an introductory presentation about the project. She stated that the study aims to produce insight into the reality of the labour force of the agricultural sector in Iraq, and it also aims to identify the characteristics of the agricultural sector and the agro-industrial sector in order to restructure the permanent, seasonal and casual employment in the agricultural sector. In addition to that, the study aims to prepare expats, those coming from different countries or other provinces within Iraq. The preparation of expats requires that several factors are taken into consideration. Such factors include: age group, gender, pay rate, skill, level of education, financial bonuses, and insurance.
Ms. Al-Kathem further stated that the study will shed light on some of the problems faced by businesses and workers of the agricultural sector, identify the necessary training skills needed for skilled agricultural labour, and monitor the current climate of investments in the agricultural sector, including those contributed by agro-industrial establishments (public and private) and household agricultural establishments. Recommendations for policies to support and improve the performance of the agricultural sector will be made and taken into serious consideration.
The National Coordinator of FAO, Mr. Hisham Soudi reiterated that agriculture accounts for a high proportion of employment, and that the agricultural sector makes up approximately 10% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and is a booming sector that provides employment opportunities and guarantees food security. Mr. Soudi further added that the project includes several different themes ranging from the preparation of studies and research collated from multiple sources to the development of policies for agricultural investments.
For his part, the Representative of the Ministry of Agriculture praised the efforts of those involved in the project. He stated that this is not the first study conducted in Iraq, as the Ministry has carried out projects and surveys in the past, including a national project carried out by the ministry in cooperation with the Central Bureau of Statistics about livestock. The results of the livestock survey were accurate and closely resembled the reality of the situation.
The Administrative and Financial Agent, Dr.Ghazi called for the development of a comprehensive plan to clarify and implement the project in order to produce a database of the workforce in the agricultural sector. He also advocated for an accompanied media campaign to raise awareness of the potential benefits of the project.
The workshop involved several presentations and speeches about the objectives of the survey, the target group and the functions and responsibilities of the training and field team to form the appropriate workforce.
In order to develop a national strategy for agricultural development in Iraq, UNESCO will carry out two comprehensive studies dealing with the workforce and the investment climate of the agricultural sector. In cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture and other partners, UNESCO will provide for and oversee the design and implementation of the two studies as well as analyse and present a report on the findings.
The work shop was attended by several researches, experts from the ministry and a number of data collectors from Baghdad and other provinces.