EU-funded Technical and Vocational Education and Training for a competitive agriculture in Iraq News

9 May, 2023

Iraq has tremendous potential to develop a competitive, export-oriented agriculture. However, years of conflict and insecurity, compounded by rural outmigration and the deterioration of agricultural infrastructure, are limiting the country’s ability to create jobs and generate economic opportunities. Building the skills and institutions needed to develop a modern, climate-smart agriculture is at the very heart of supporting Iraq’s efforts to reduce poverty and build prosperity for all.

On Europe Day – May 9th, Cowater International Belgium is proud to recognize our partnership with the European Union in supporting better training skills and marketing opportunities for the farmers of Iraq.

The ongoing ISDEHARAK Project (Iraqi Skill Development by European Union Holistic Agriculture Recovery through Advanced Knowledge) is a 3-year (2022-25), 9 million Euro intervention that aims to support Iraq’s efforts develop the vocational, technical skills and training systems needed to support livelihoods for small farmers.

ISDEHARAK is part of the broader EU-funded “Agri-Food Business Development” Programme that supports agri-food businesses in Iraq and works to improve the overall business environment in the country.

ISDEHARAK has a dual focus. Firstly, it supports innovative teaching methods in technical and vocational education and training (TVET) in the field of agriculture and enhances the skills of agriculture workers to be more efficient, more productive and more employable. Secondly, ISDEHARAK focuses on enhancing soft and technical skills and promoting agricultural entrepreneurship to empower young people, including women, youth and internally displaced people (IDPs).

The project’s key institutional partners are the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), the Ministry of Education (MoE), the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research (MoHESR) and the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (MoLSA).

Priority actions focus on curriculum development and soft and technical skills enhancement. These actions have been identified after extensive face-to-face discussions, and workshops with stakeholders and beneficiaries representing the public and private sectors.

ISDEHARAK is adopting a multi-pronged approach to empower key TVET agriculture institutions to promote knowledge transfer to farmers and boost graduates’ employability along the food chain, from farm to fork.

Smart agriculture and enhanced extension training methodologies are being delivered in partnerships with Iraq’s MoA. The first such training started recently in Baghdad and will be replicated in Erbil soon. MoHESR plays a key role in organizing job fairs and facilitates the transfer of scientific knowledge and best international practices to participating career development centres, having organized two trainings in Kurdistan over the course of this year.

To ensure the sustainability of various training activities, ISDEHARAK supports a ToT (Training-of-Trainers) approach for MoE staff on modern education skills, after conducting a successful field assessment of existing education methods. Competency and employability skills training will support students in finding new jobs. MoLSA’s assistance will target food processing and preparation and will have a primary focus on women and youth.

Furthermore, extension workers from across Iraq have been trained in storytelling and communication skills to enable knowledge transfer to farmers on modern agriculture techniques and environmentally-friendly production practices.

ISDEHARAK has a strong field presence in Iraq, currently employing seven international experts and numerous short-term international and national experts. The project is implemented in a challenging, post-conflict environment and seeks support the reconstruction efforts of the country devastated by two decades of civil wars, political unrest, economic meltdown and severe climate change effects that are substantially affecting the agriculture sector. Cowater International Belgium has mobilized an experienced team to achieve results in this conflict-affected environment and remains committed to advance a more successful and productive agricultural sector in Iraq.

Photo credit: Cowater International/Mohammad Ben Hussein.

Caption: Agriculture student in a greenhouse (Bakrajo-Kurdistan, Iraq).

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