Locals load produce into a truck at a food distrubtion center. Photo: Rudaw
BAGHDAD, Iraq — Recognizing the significance of food security in Iraq, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) recently concluded a major workshop for a number of government ministries and stakeholders on the collection and analysis of information related to food security.
According to a Fadel El-Zubi, FAO representative in Iraq, “The key question is how to address the relevant stakeholders’ capacities in this field in the future.
“The outcome of analysis of food security information decide what actions and funding are required to achieve a sustainable food security system, as well as assist FAO to attract the attention of donors to this important issue in Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq.”
The meeting of ministers, academics, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and representatives of the private sector addressed the issues of nutrition in addition to food security, but a press release from Iraq’s UN office said: “The main objective of the meeting was to review the food security information systems in Iraq and to discuss future capacity development.”
The UN and FAO have warned of food shortages in Iraq due to almost three years of war between government forces and ISIS and its impact on the country’s food security.
“Since 2014, this is one of the factors that has contributed to countrywide cereal shortages and a sharp rise in the cost of basic food commodities in Iraq,” El-Zubi said in a statement in February. “Restoring people’s ability to farm and trade in conflict-affected communities is not only important for food security, but also for building peace and prosperity in the country.”
“With nearly one-third of Iraqis requiring humanitarian assistance, food security remains one of the most worrying aspects of the crisis in Iraq,” the UN in Iraq said in February. “Some 77 percent of Iraq’s 2.9 million food insecure people are women, children or elderly.”
In its latest report on the Baghdad gathering, FAO wrote that “the main objective of this workshop is to look into the food security information systems in Iraq, and to discuss the strengths, weaknesses of mechanism of collect and analyze such information.”
According to Dr. Hussein Ali Saud, Adviser to Iraqi Minister of Agriculture for Livestock Activity, hailed the project as something that will provide the Iraqi government “with essential information in the food security database. This is a substantial step for future planning to improve the Iraqi capacity in food security information systems.”