The project partners have met on 9 November for an online closing event to celebrate the achievements of the fruitful cooperation between Anbar Governorate, UNDP, Slovenian municipalities, and partnerships. Closing speeches were given by Jasim Mohammed Abdullah Al-Halboosi, Deputy Governor and Head of team for project tasks, Regional Director of UNDP in Ramadi Maan Mohammed Hamzah Hamzah and Jasmina Vidmar, Secretary-General Association of Municipalities and Towns of Slovenia.

The main highlights of the project cooperation were summarised by Jasmina Vidmar: “The established Agricultural Development Centre as a central project result represents an important meeting point for farmers in the province. The transfer of agricultural knowledge and networking experiences is therefore one of the key contributions of the established ADC that enables the establishment of long-term relationships with different stakeholders from local to international level. We are confident that the five staff members employed under the Anbar Governorate will continue to work in a collaborative, professional and cooperative manner with farmers. Too often we realise that farmers need the active support of local communities and decision makers. We must not forget that integration and cooperation is a two-way process of giving and receiving, of which we are all part of.”

In his closing address, Jasim Mohammed Abdullah Al-Halboosi, Deputy Governor and Head of team for project tasks said that the partnership established in this project has many benefits for Anbar province. He highlighted the challenges that the agriculture sector is facing the most: “We are facing extreme temperatures and we have great needs to establish irrigation systems. We are also challenged to protect ourselves from extreme weather events. Our farmers are still using old technologies which we want to modernise, but we also need a new marketing strategy.” In conclusion, he said that the partnership in this project has strengthened them and has been beneficial for Anbar province.

“The surface of agriculture in this province is one third of the total agricultural land in whole Iraq and has a high percentage of population that lives from agriculture”, said Sinnan Mohammed Ali Ali, Director of Al Jazeera Agriculture Department and Member of the team for project tasks, who highlighting the positive experience they have gained through the project partnership.

The event was the 25th formal meeting of the project and the partners also met in 50 informal meetings. During the implementation, the project partners were in constant contact. Most often via web-rooms, e-mail, and telephone conversations. Two study visits were also carried out, one to Iraq in June 2022 and the second to Slovenia in November 2022. During their visit to Slovenia, they visited the Agricultural Institute and had the opportunity to learn about good practices introduced in Slovenian agriculture, which could inspire them in the future in the development of agriculture in Anbar. “We would like to make the ADC as a learning centre that will help farmers. We still have many challenges in front of us, but we will strive to achieve them, because we are convinced that modernisation of agriculture and an improved situation for farmers can bring stability. Indeed, farming is the most important livelihood sector for the people of Anbar,” said Dr Abbood Mohammed Hazeem Hazeem, agricultural expert and and Deputy head of the team for project tasks.

Matjaž Harmel, Director of ZaVita consulting company divided the results of the project into three groups: the establishment and creation of the ADC, the preparation of a sustainability plan and the creation of cooperation: »At the beginning of the project, we communicated very carefully, avoiding unknown and unpleasant questions, which hindered all of us from progressing in the implementation of the project. When we broke the ice, when we got to know each other in person, we established a relationship that enables efficient work and therefore gives good results.«  He added: “The preparation and implementation of the project was a very big challenge for our team. We were aware that we were entering an area with a different culture and way of working. However, this is precisely the purpose of peer-to-peer cooperation and exchange of experiences and good practices. COVID additionally ensured that the implementation of the project was not too easy. But now we are at the end and we can boast that we have achieved the set goals.«

The final meeting of the project was closed by Matevž Premelč, Project Manager at ZaVita consulting: “Every end has a new beginning. We hope that the sustainability action plan will facilitate not only the work of the ADC and its employees but also generate future ideas and facilitate their realisation. The plan nicely reflects the activities that were done in one year and a half and it has been mutually prepared by both peers, and for which I would like to thank to dr. Abbood and his team for contributions in this joint document.”

The participants thanked each other for their help and cooperation. Congrats also came from the Regional coordinator Mohammed Nasser and ADC employees who as well attended the event. The Slovenian partners expressed their support to the Iraqi colleagues and told them that they would be happy to make their knowledge and experience available to them in future.

The project Promotion of agricultural development through exchange of good practices and active participation is funded by the European Union (EU) and implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Iraq. 

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