At today's high-level strategy meeting, with all the top brass and many interagency leaders... I gave the following update on how USAID's agribusiness program Inma ("growth" in Arabic) contributes to Iraq's growing stability and security. In short, building Iraqi agricultural capacity helps Iraq be less dependent on imports and less vulnerable to droughts and other environmental shocks. Here's part of the brief:
"A NYT article recently featured the resurgence of the Iraqi fish industry, crediting Inma for its support. Aquaculture is re-emerging slowly as a major food source in Iraq, and the traditional open-flame roasting of fish is making a comeback in the newly re-opened Masquf restaurants in the riverside park along Abu Nuwas. Despite inexpensive imported frozen product, there remains devotion among Iraqis for fresh, locally produced fish. Almost all the fish roasted on Abu Nuwas now — mostly common carp and its varietal cousins — are raised on farms scattered along the Euphrates River south of Baghdad.
"In Babil province, increased stability following the surge allowed Inma to assist the two biggest Iraqi fish hatcheries. Extensive canals in Babil Governorate and neighboring areas provide water for over 1,000 hectares of ponds devoted to production of common carp. Rather than promote an increase in the number of ponds, and hence water use, Inma trains farmers to more efficiently use their existing ponds and reduce losses of live fish as they are transported to market. Annual fish production in Babil increased from a negligible amount in 2007 to 65,000 MT in April 2009. In May 2009, Inma flew 12,400 carp fingerlings from Hungary to cross-breed a hardier, fleshier fish which will be ready for production in May 2010. Gross sales by Inma-assisted fish farms will grow by $30 million over the next two years."
The Commanding General of MNF-I recommended that we look into using the monstrously huge Fish at Al Faw (the actual fish, not this website) to help strengthen Iraqi fish farms... and the Chief of Staff MNF-I explained that we're already helping to do that under some program. Thought you'd all want to know!