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Dutch-funded program signed to boost agriculture sector in Kurdistan Region

Shkoi Kurdistan-

The Dutch Consulate General on Monday hosted a signing ceremony for the Iraq Horticulture Development Program (IHD), funded by the Netherlands, in the attendance of senior Kurdish officials.

The agreement was signed between the IHD and implemented by ECO Consult, represented by Nawa Sarbast, and the lead partner in Erbil, Hussein Dizzaye, the CEO of Arabela Farms.

A concrete result of the support from the Netherlands to #KRI. With financial & technical support from the Netherlands, a MoU was signed with a private investor in the field of innovative agriculture. In this way #KRI can grow more, better and cheaper agricultural products. pic.twitter.com/GnXqhnIxbE— Hans Akerboom (@jtmakerboom) December 22, 2020

The four-year program aims to increase the resilience of market systems and increase knowledge among farmers about efficient and sustainable horticulture management.

Dizzaye said that that the plan is to create a 5,000-square-meter hydroponic multi-span greenhouse in the Kurdistan Region, south of Erbil. “It will focus on the production of certain vegetables, like cherry tomatoes and colorful peppers,” he added.

He said these products are currently imported from abroad and are not available locally. As a result, the prices are quite high. “We are trying to establish a system so that those products can also be produced locally at least for the domestic market in the short-term.”

In the past, the Kurdistan Region and Iraq, in general, have been dependent on cheaper imports of agricultural products from neighboring Iran and Turkey, but now both Baghdad and Erbil plan to develop agricultural products locally for the domestic market.

Dizzaye added that the Kurdistan Region is currently suffering from a water scarcity problem and needs innovations in agriculture.

“It’s becoming less and less [the water supply]. So that’s one of the reasons that we have to consider more modern technologies,” he said. “The capital needed is quite high, but I think this investment is no longer optional, it’s a necessity to be able to continue to have a sustainable economy.”

The Dutch Consul General in Erbil, Hans Akerboom, said that the Dutch government is “trying to support” the Kurdistan Region “to be more efficient, cheaper [like the Netherlands],” and ensure “your products are much better, so you’re less dependent on importing goods from abroad.”

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