Tag Archive: change

Aug 31

Zakho Small Villages Projects: Pushing for Organic Agriculture in Iraq

In 1997, Zakho Small Project Villages (ZSVP)started its organic agriculture activities in Iraq. Through the dissemination of organic agriculture techniques, awareness raising on environment and pesticide hazards, rural extension and  training courses for farmers, rural women, agriculture department staff and students, ZSVP pushed for Organic Agriculture in Iraq.

At that period, we (as an NGO interested in Organic Agriculture) faced many problems with the government, first because of economic sanctions. Indeed, the main goal of the government was to produce food without taking any consideration to the value, health and environmental issues. Secondly, we faced problems with the FAO policy in Iraq, as the FAO due to the UN resolution 986 (Oil for Food) was regularly importing a lot of agriculture chemicals  and distribute to or oblige farmers to receive these chemical inputs as a condition to receive other equipments.

Until 2003, organic activities were focused on Northern governorates of Iraq, but after this date, our organic program expanded to cover other areas of Iraq thanks to the support of international organizations.

In 2009, the Organic agriculture department is founded in the Ministry of agriculture in Iraq which expected to play an important role in dissemination of organic agriculture among farmers especially in middle and southern governorates.

During 2010-2012, many conferences and meetings arranged by universities and Iraqi academics recommended to adopt organic agriculture as a mean to reduce the deterioration in the environment and agriculture land which was caused by the successive Gulf wars between 1980-2003.

Organic Grape Production in Iraq

In 2010 and for the first time in Iraq, 37 farmers (Grapes growers) were organically certified  and work is ongoing to increase the land organically cultivated and certified farmers.

Today, organic agriculture is studied in colleges of agriculture in the Kurdistan region and Iraq especially to graduate students.

These are important achievements that need to be underlined, however there are still many challenges the organic farmers have to face in Iraq. They include:

  • Drought and desertification problems and lack of will from the government to tackle this problem;
  • Lack of law and legislation in Iraq to provide a legal framework for organic production;
  • Non availability of organic inputs and high prices if available;
  • Lack of organic marketing of farmers’ produce;

These challenges can be overcome by organizing advocacy campaigns for the protection of agricultural land in Iraq against unsustainable practices, procedures and the government’s mismanagement of soil and agricultural land. The governement should be pressured to create a legislation and framework for organic production, as well as for marketing and certification of organic products.

IFOAM can contribute and play an important role in arranging training programs on organic agriculture for farmers and rural women. This is why ZSVP is Proud member of IFOAM.

Dr. Abid Alli Hasan
Zakho Small Villages Program Coordinator in Iraq
zsvp@yahoo.com 

Aug 24

Wolf + DiMatteo Associates: What are the lessons from Rio+20 and who will provide the leadership forward?

The lack of resounding endorsement from Rio+20 for sustainable agriculture and food systems will not stop us from moving forward individually and collectively, as we have been doing for 40 years, to put the principles of organic agriculture into practice and model the future we want.

 

 

 

What are the lessons from Rio+20 and who will provide the leadership forward?

As an outside but interested observer of the Rio +20 Summit – one who followed the blogs and news reports, and read the proposed language from NGOs, business, and governments, I was profoundly impressed with the level of preparation for and participation in Rio+20 and its side events.  The disappointment expressed about the final declaration was, in my opinion, amplified because of the high expectations going into the Summit.  From one viewpoint, Rio+20 was a success because of the fact that so many diverse opinions and perspectives came together with the hope of mapping out a way forward to a sustainable future.  Realistically there could not have been a truly revolutionary outcome because governments, and international bodies of governments, are rarely leaders of change.  Inspirational leadership, creative solutions, and risk-taking actions remain the role of non-government, public interest, or civil society organizations.  Rio+20 provided many of these organizations the opportunity to debate, negotiate and work on common ground, and to deliver unified messages.  The strength and presence of the NGOs, and even business groups, was well-reported during and after the Summit – another positive outcome!

But what happens now?  Will the NGOs, that were at Rio+20 and found like-minded partners, continue to work together to achieve the future that they had envisioned?  Will their collaborations begun at Rio+20 be short-term or long-term?  What lessons were learned about reframing discrete organizational interest areas to contribute to a larger sustainable vision?  How will these leaders leverage the relationships built at the Summit?  There haven’t been many answers to these questions since June, perhaps because organizational resources, personal and financial, are tapped out or time is needed for thoughtful reflection on best next steps. The Bonn Sustainability Days: Addressing Our Future Today, November 22-28th, organized by IFOAM may provide answers, but hopefully more – actions that we can take within our organizations and businesses as part of the global movement to shape an equitable, resilient, diverse, and sustainable world.

Katherine DiMatteo
Wolf, DiMatteo + Associates
www.organicspecialists.com