Some of the 82 graduates from the UN’s training program in agri-business smile proudly with their certificates. Photo: UNIDO
SHAQLAWA, Kurdistan Region – The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) celebrated the graduation of 82 female trainees on Monday in Shaqlawa who received certificates in the agri-business sector, including food processing for micro industries.
"The project seeks to help families secure much needed income through capacity-building in weaker and vulnerable sections of society, especially women," said the UNIDO’s National Coordinator Mahmood Khoshnaw from the Shaqlawa Ministry of Agriculture where the ceremony was held.
The trainees included local Kurdish women, as well as 22 Iraqi IDPs and Syrian refugees who have lived in Shaqlawa since fleeing ISIS in 2014.
The program emphasized hygienic food processing at home to serve demands for Shaqlawa's popular local products of bazook, fruit leather, lokum, pomegranate concentrate, and other confectioneries.
The training, which covered included production skills and entrepreneurship, began in October and ended the first week of December. However, the program continues as part of a value chain project that goes from the farms to the marketplace, "to bolster employment opportunities through supporting traditional small-scale businesses which depend on local raw materials," said Khoshnaw.
UNIDO's project, funded by the Austrian and Japanese governments, had trained trainers from the KRG’s Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources as well as the Ministry of Trade and Industry. The Ministry of Planning is the main coordinating agency for implementing the programs.
Training takes place mainly in rural areas where employment opportunities are scarce in order to improve family incomes and economic stability within their host communities.
Training is also provided in IDP and refugee camps.
UNIDO also stresses empowerment of women so that they can become self-sufficient and assist in maintaining their households, especially since many women lost their husbands or family members during the war and are now the sole providers for their children.
The primary goal of UNIDO is to “strengthen economic resilience of Syrian refugees, Iraqi IDPs, returnees and their host communities and promote inclusive sustainable industrial development” within the Kurdistan Region.