Cultivating the future: Ahmed’s path to sustainable agriculture in Iraq

Ahmed is proud for promoting modern agriculture among his colleagues

In Iraq, agriculture is a cornerstone in tackling food problems and creating employment opportunities, especially in rural areas. With its potential to combat environmental degradation and water scarcity, hydroponics is proving to be a good solution for sustainable food production.

By growing plants without soil and using nutrient-rich water solutions, hydroponics saves water, a precious resource in Iraq. It also enables year-round cultivation, reducing dependence on seasonal weather patterns and mitigating the impact of extreme temperatures and desert conditions on crop yields.

UNDP equipping farmers in Iraq

Cultivating The Future: Ahmed'S Path To Sustainable Agriculture In Iraq

Photo: 24 Dec. 2023- Shirqat – Iraq – Ahmed Turki Naif

To tackle pressing agricultural and environmental issues, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) initiated a capacity-building program in the Shirqat region. The aim is to equip farmers with the knowledge and skills needed to implement hydroponic systems effectively, promoting agricultural productivity and economic prosperity while addressing Iraq’s specific needs.

Meet Ahmed Turki Nayef, a farmer from Al-Shirqat, and father of two children, a historically important town north of Baiji in Salah Al-Din governorate. Al-Shirqat is crossed by the Tigris River, which divides the city in two and has numerous farms on its banks. Surrounded by hills and with a fertile plain suitable for agriculture, Al-Shirqat serves as an important agricultural hub from which various crops and produce are exported to neighboring cities. The presence of the river also ensures a vital supply of drinking water for the city’s residents.

Innovative techniques that require less water  

Cultivating The Future: Ahmed'S Path To Sustainable Agriculture In Iraq

Photo: 24 Dec. 2023- Shirqat – Iraq – Ahmed Turki Naif

As one of the participants in the modern agriculture and sustainability technology courses in Shirqat, a transformative journey began for Ahmed. In these courses, he learned about the latest agricultural practices, including fixed sprinkler farming, distillation-based agriculture, and hydroponics. With his newly acquired knowledge, Ahmed began a first experiment using modern farming techniques on his small plot of land.

However, his ambitions go far beyond this: he has a vision of a model agricultural project that encompasses the entire agricultural land of Salah al-Din and beyond.  Using drip farming, Ahmed has achieved remarkable success in growing winter crops such as barley and wheat, as well as a variety of vegetables such as onions, garlic, celery, and chard. He ventured into hydroponics and successfully grew strawberries and ornamental plants, highlighting the efficiency and productivity of this method.

“Today, I can now produce and grow many products with minimal effort and the best quality, which competes in the local market, after introducing modern technologies to my farm. In the future, I aspire to scale up this experience.”

Building knowledge for a sustainable future

Cultivating The Future: Ahmed'S Path To Sustainable Agriculture In Iraq

Photo: 24 Dec. 2023- Shirqat – Iraq – Ahmed Turki Naif

Ahmed is proud of his achievements, especially in promoting modern agricultural practices among his colleagues. He emphasizes the economic benefits and better product quality that can be achieved through modern methods and advocates eliminating outdated practices. Ahmed thanks the United Nations for facilitating the training course, which has helped him progress towards realizing his agricultural ambitions.

” These trainings have helped me realize part of my dreams, as I have started advising all farmers to abandon the old and traditional methods and replace them with modern methods to ensure the economic aspect, as well as to ensure the product and its good quality with the least possible effort and cost, I advise everyone to cultivate through irrigation and distillation for its quality and economy, not to mention avoiding the problems of traditional agriculture. ”