The University of Western Australia is playing a key role in helping Iraq improve its crop production and reduce its reliance on food imports.
Twenty-seven Iraqi agricultural scientists are the first to have completed a short course at UWA aimed at helping redress a 50 per cent decline in Iraqi major crop production in the past 20 years.
The five-week intensive training course in integrated plant disease management (IPDM) was initiated by AusAID, which also secured an Australian Government commitment last week in partnership with the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research to provide $4.7 million for agricultural research and development over the next three years to encourage farmers in northern Iraq to adopt conservation cropping methods in dryland agriculture.
Professor Kadambot Siddique, Director of UWA's Institute of Agriculture, said the Iraqi Government had prioritised redeveloping its agricultural sector to improve the livelihood of rural people and reduce dependence on imported food.
"Agriculture currently provides about eight per cent of Iraq's GDP and 20 per cent of its employment, supporting seven million people of a total population of 26 million," Professor Siddique said.
"The Institute of Agriculture was approached by AusAID early this year to develop a training program on IPDM.
"During the training course, trainees attended lectures and practical sessions on plant pathogens, which include bacteria, viruses, nematodes, fungi and mycoplasma."
AusAID and UWA are discussing further training opportunities and scholarships at UWA for postgraduate students from Iraq.
"The major outcome of courses such as the one delivered by UWA, is to help Iraqi national agricultural agencies develop sufficient technical capacity to plan, implement and monitor research and development programs in agriculture," Professor Siddique said.
WHAT: Certificate presentation ceremony following completion of five weeks' intensive training in Integrated Plant Disease Management.
WHEN: Friday 3 October, 2008
Speeches and presentation of certificates 1-1.30pm
WHERE: Prescott Room, Vice Chancellery, UWA
Peta Beasley (UWA Public Affairs) (+61 8) 6488 3016 / (+61 4) 14 663 016
Professor Kadambot Siddique
(UWA Institute of Agriculture) (+61 8) 6488 7012 / (+61 4) 11 155 396
Janine MacDonald (UWA Public Affairs) (+61 8) 6488 5563 / (+61 4) 32 637 716