In the scope of the Peer-To-Peer cooperation project between representatives of the Anbar governorate and the project team form Slovenia, the first study visit to Iraq took place in June 2022.

In the scope of the project the Agriculture Development Center (ADC) was established in Ramadi, equipped, and staffed by project funds. The in-person meeting of project partners brought together the Anbar governorates representatives, the Agricultural development centre’s staff, and experts from the field of agriculture, environmental protection, management of natural resources as well as local authorities from Slovenia and Anbar.

The aim of the visit was the development of training content for farmers, which will be carried out by the staff of the Agriculture Development Center, training on vegetable production, the presentation of innovative marketing possibilities an agreement about next steps in the project.

The study visit began with a ceremonial opening, hosted by the Anbar Deputy Governor Eng Jasim Mohammad Abdallah, who warmly welcomed the Slovenian delegation, formed by farming expert dr. Blaž Germšek and the Slovenian project partners from Zavita environmental consulting company Mr Matjaž Harmel and Mr. Matevž Premelč. The deputy governor expressed a warm welcome to the Slovenian delegation and thanks for the effort invested in the joint project as well as the expectation of a successful transfer of good practices to the home region.

The goal of the study visit was to further identify the focus area regarding training content for employees of the Agricultural development center and the local farmers, based on the conducted training about the benefits of networking of local producers as well as the role of Agricultural development center as coordination point and knowledge center for local farmers. To empower the Agricultural development centre’s staff for this role, a train-the-trainer program was conducted on how to organize and implement a quality training for specific target groups. Also, the topic of vegetable production and greenhouses was tackled. In a group meeting the agricultural expert dr. Blaž Germšek presented the state of art in vegetable production in Slovenia and modern technologies for the production. Sinan Mohammed, the director of Anbar Agriculture Office – Al Jazeera Sector, remarked at the end of the training: “The in-person training was really useful and delivered knowledge about innovative methods in modern agriculture. We were really interested in it and hope to implement these experiences in our country soon.”

At the same time the Anbar governorate representatives presented the vegetable production in the region, the challenges, and problems, as well as the needs. The project partner visited different farms and greenhouses and discussed the possibilities for better production. Regarding the possibility of transferring practices in agriculture from Slovenia to Iraq, dr. Germšek highlighted: “We identified a good opportunity of transfer of various models of controlled horticultural production, namely everything from ventilation, which can be roof or side, cooling, which can be adibbing or ventilation, as well as irrigation with the drip technique above ground or underground water supply. Also, machines that would help with transportation, everything from picking crops to sorting and packing them, are a niche market for cooperation with Iraqi agriculture. Considering that we have a well-developed beekeeping industry in Slovenia, and a Slovenian Beekeeping Academy, I see a great opportunity to transfer beekeeping knowledge to Iraqi beekeepers and institutions.”

At the third day of the visit the group discussed modern and innovative methods for marketing. The mayor dr. Vladimir Prebilič, who joined the meeting online, presented the case of Treasure of Kočevje. The cooperative was founded by 6 members in 2015 at the initiative of the municipality of Kočevje. Today, the cooperative has 13 members and over 40 business partners. The business incubator Kočevje took the initiative and helped the Cooperative to establish and start up. The cooperative manages a nursery in which cooperative members have established an orchard with approximately 400 fruit trees, an herb garden and the production of fruits and vegetables. You can also learn about the workings of bees and honey production in the educational apiary. The main activities of the cooperative are the supply of locally produced food to public institutions – schools, kindergartens, and homes for the elderly.

They have also accepted the responsibility of managing urban gardens, as they want to provide a cultivating area for those who live in multi-apartment buildings. The Treasures of Kočevje Shop is in the center of the city, where they offer over 170 local products with premium origins.

Further, a in depth training about implementation of direct sales, joint marketing and virtual markets was conducted for the Anbar partners to show the variety of marketing possibilities for farmers in the Anbar region, as well as the possible role of the governorate in it.

All project activities were financed under the Programme ‘Supporting Recovery and Stability in Iraq through Local Development’, funded by the European Union and Implemented by UNDP.

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