Hearing the voices of Iraqi farmers

15 June 2021
ITC News
With the inception of the SAAVI project, efforts to promote sustainable economic development pick up pace in Iraq.

After decades of conflict, Iraq needs a clear roadmap for building a sustainable and inclusive model of economic growth.

The stakes are high. As COVID-19 and global economic turmoil hit an economy that mostly relied on oil revenue, the population is in dire need of new employment opportunities in alternative economic sectors.

In the ruins of West Mosul, a conflict-affected region, a group of farmers from surrounding rural areas gathered in the International Organization for Migration community centre to share their stories with experts from the International Trade Centre.

“I used to produce beautiful tomatoes, but we have less and less rain these days, and we are not trained on the use of modern irrigation techniques,” a farmer from Sinjar valley said, highlighting that security issues are compounded by climatic challenges.

Another participant added: “I have started a cheese and dairy products factory, but without proper cold storage it is hard to make my business work. I also struggle to find trained workers while I have various vacant positions”.

While unemployment is rife in Iraq, technical training and education need to be better aligned with the requirements of the private sector. Participants agreed that beyond life-saving emergency assistance, Iraqis increasingly need dedicated technical assistance to rebuild the economy and harness the power of trade to build lasting peace.

Meeting with local farmers and entrepreneurs running small and medium enterprises, was instrumental to ensuring that their views are taken into consideration in the design of an impactful assistance programme, implemented with the financial support of the European Union.


Strengthening the agriculture and agri-food value chain and improving trade policy in Iraq (SAAVI) is a project funded by the European Union (EU) and implemented by the International Trade Centre (ITC). SAAVI contributes to inclusive economic growth and job creation, particularly for youth, by improving the competitiveness of Iraq’s agriculture and supporting trade development in the country.