As part of the Peer-To-Peer cooperation project with Iraqi governorate Anbar the project consortium organized a study visit to Slovenia with a tour of good practices in the field of agriculture. The delegation of Iraqi partners, consisting of Jasim Mohammed Abdullah Al-Halboosi, the deputy governor of the Anbar region, Dr. Abbood Mohammed Hazeem, Agriculture Expert in Anbar Province, Maan Mohammed Hamzah, Regional Manager at UNDP in Anbar, Sinan Mohammed Ali, Director of Al Jazeera Agriculture Department and Mustafa Jasim Mohammed Abdullah Al-Halboosi, Project Working Group Member, visited locations in Ljubljana and Ajdovščina.

The project partnership focuses on promoting the development of agriculture in the Anbar region, based on the experience of local communities from Slovenia. As part of the Iraqi partners’ four-day study visit to Slovenia, the delegation met with the Agricultural Institute of Slovenia. The plant gene bank, which has been operating as part of the state public service since 2018, was presented. Its beginnings go much further into the past, as agricultural plants have been included in the professional and research program since the establishment of the institute, more than 120 years ago. Also, the Slovenian beekeeping academy was presented. Slovenia has a centuries-long beekeeping tradition, which it spreads and nurtures within the framework of informal education in Slovenia and abroad. The project partners also visited the biogas plant, oil press, biodiesel production, greenhouses and agricultural machinery as part of their visit to the Jablje Infrastructure Center. This is the central scientific research and professional institution in the field of agriculture in Slovenia, which successfully introduces and transfers new scientific knowledge into agricultural practice.

In the second part of the study tour the delegation visited Ajdovščina, where the management of the ROD Regional Agency presented the development and operation of the agency, as well as the operation, maintenance and upgrading of the virtual agricultural produce market. They also got to know and taste the delicacies of Vipava, produced by the successful local producers Cheesemakers Orel, which produces products made from sheep’s milk.

The project activities are also generously supported by the mayor of the municipality of Ajdovščina, Tadej Beočanin, who participates in the project as a holder of good practice of the virtual market, short supply chains, and implementing local policies for more successful farming. The assembled Iraqi delegation was greeted and addressed by the mayor himself at the ROD regional development agency, emphasizing that agriculture is one of the important industries without which the existence and development of the Vipava Valley would not be possible. At the same time, he emphasized: “We are proud that representatives from abroad also come to see examples of good practices, which is one more confirmation that our strategic orientations are correct.”

The project work has already borne the first fruits in the Anbar region as well, as the Agricultural Development Center (ADC) came to life with the help of good practices from Slovenia and seed resources of the project. Premises owned by the Anbar region have received appropriate equipment and employees who are trained and educated as part of the project activities. So far, online training has been conducted for employees in the field of organization of the work of this type of development center, as well as training in the field of vegetable production, marketing of agricultural products and aquaculture. The study visit to Slovenia will significantly contribute to the implementation of agricultural development policies and practices in Anbar region. Namely, one of the goals of the study visit to Slovenia was also the joint preparation of a sustainability action plan for the management of the Agricultural development center in Anbar. The deputy governor of Anbar region, engineer Jasim Mohammed Abdullah, highlighted the exceptional importance of mutual exchange and partner cooperation: “The partnership program is useful for the exchange of expertise and the development of skills, especially when the economic conditions in both countries are similar. Such knowledge exchange can make the implementation of the same program in another country possible.”

The Association of Municipalities and Towns of Slovenia is the leading partner of the mutual cooperation project with the Iraqi province of Anbar. The project consortium consists of the company Zavita, the company Stritih consulting for sustainable development, and the Faculty of Electrical Engineering of the University of Ljubljana. The project is implemented within the framework of the Support to Recovery and Stability in Iraq through Local Development program funded by the European Union (EU) and implemented by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

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