Story: Youth entrepreneurship in Iraq to thrive in the agriculture sector

15 July 2021
ITC News

Holding a master’s in agriculture economy from University of Mosul, Muthanna Khamees Rashid has a clear vision for his future.

He will soon launch an integrated fish and tomatoes greenhouse system. Issues of food security, access to fish and vegetables, and water scarcity in Mosul will be addressed through the solar powered system.

The training he had received on agronomy and business development in addition to seed funding has come in handy.

Scaling in coordination with government for covering more cities is high on his agenda.

Understanding the challenges

However, Muthanna has not let his optimism and motivation blind him to the challenges that stand in the way of achieving his goals.

“Entrepreneurship is hard everywhere, but is even harder here,” he says talking to a group of trade experts and other young entrepreneurs.

Access to finance, ease of doing business and operational hurdles are some of the challenges that need urgent attention.

Women entrepreneurs need to be brought to the forefront by creating an enabling environment for them so that they can pursue diverse business ideas.

“We need to change the mindset and make people aware that they can become an entrepreneur in agriculture,” says Muthanna reaching out for the phone in his pocket.

Supporting Iraqi youth in agriculture

As Muthanna picks up his ringing phone, his face lights up with a smile. His first daughter is born and he shares this great news with everyone. He has found another reason to take his business to the next level.

Muthanna is one of the many young bright Iraqis working in agribusiness, who participated in a group discussion organized by the International Trade Centre’s team recently.

The discussion was held with the support from Oxfam’s Emergency Response innovation lab, established in Erbil to support youth entrepreneurship.

Other bilateral meetings and multi-stakeholder consultations were also held last month with key actors in Baghdad, Mosul, Erbil, Basrah ahead of the implementation of the European Union funded project, Strengthening the agriculture and agri-food value chain and improving trade policy in Iraq. (SAAVI).

Implemented by the International Trade Centre, the project will contribute to inclusive growth and job creation in Iraq, particularly for the youth. It is working to enhance the competitiveness of Iraq’s agribusiness value chain, while improving the country’s trade policy.