Conservation agriculture project: Phase III launched

September 17, 2012 at 4:46 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Development of conservation cropping systems in the drylands of northern Iraq

Promoting conservation agriculture in Iraq: partners launch the next phase of a hugely successful project

Phase III of the Australian-funded (ACIAR/AusAID), ICARDA-led project on conservation agriculture was launched at a meeting in Amman, 10-14 September. The new initiative will build on earlier phases, which catapulted the use of conservation cropping in Iraq and Syria from near-zero to more than 28,000 hectares in less than five years.

The Project Inception Meeting brought together more than 60 scientists, development experts and others, including H.E. Heidi Venamore, Australian Ambassador to Jordan; Mr Uday Asaad Khamas from the Iraqi embassy in Amman; Dr Eric Huttner, Crop Program Manager at the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR); senior staff from Iraq’s Ministries of Agriculture, Higher Education and Foreign Affairs; and collaborators from four Iraqi universities (Mosul, Anbar, Salahaddin and Kirkuk), the University of Western Australia and Adelaide University.

“Australia and ICARDA enjoy a very close relationship,” the Ambassador said. She noted the many achievements in research, capacity development, and creation of linkages between Iraqi organizations and the global science community.

“Conservation agriculture is vitally important in dry areas,” said Dr Mahmoud Solh, ICARDA Director General. “Strong support from Australian agencies, and from government ministries in Iraq and Syria, has led to impressive progress in the past five years. We must now build on this platform.”

The project aims to spread conservation agriculture methods – a combination of zero tillage, retention of crop residues, crop rotations, early planting and other sound crop management practices – to many more farmers. Activities, which earlier focused on Ninevah province, will expand to three other governorates in Iraq (Anbar, Kirkuk and Salahaddin) and to new areas in Syria. Implementation will be led by Iraq’s Department of Agriculture and State Boards of Agricultural Research, with multi-disciplinary teams from Iraqi and Australian universities, ICARDA, ACIAR and other partner organizations.

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