Press Release

Through EU funded project, FAO establishing stakeholder’s partnerships for Improving Date Palm and Tomato value chains in south Iraq

23 November 2022

Basra, 22 November 2022 - The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in Iraq (FAO), held a large consultative meeting in Al-Zubair district / Basra Governorate, with the Agriculture Directorate, Farmers Associations, Al-Zubair Tomato Producers Association, tomato and date palm farmers, with the participation of women farmers from the Office of Rural Women’s Affairs and representatives from the private sector.

FAO Representative in Iraq Dr Salah ElHajj Hassan, confirmed that the project “Restoration and enhance the resilience of agricultural food systems in southern Iraq funded by the European Union and implemented by FAO in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture in Iraq focuses on developing tomato and Date palm sectors, in addition to the buffalo sector, as the main value chains in southern Iraq, pointing to the importance of introducing Farmers Field School FFS programs for implementing a participatory approach in analyzing technical challenges as well identifying and implementing solutions, which will have a profound impact in strengthening the capacities of  both extension staff and farmers.

FAO Representative  and FAO team further highlighted that Technical support will be accompanied by marketing interventions that will be based on a partnership including farmers association, MOA and other stakeholders with project initial support.

The interventions and remarks of  participants were noted, as well directions and comments  of the local authorities, as the Director of Agriculture and the Head of Farmers Associations in Basra confirmed their commitments in dedicating needed efforts and resources to ensure  success for this innovative vision for  supporting the marketing of both Tomato and date crops.

The Director of the Rural Women's Affairs Office confirmed that women have a fundamental role within the Tomato Producers Association as they have an active contribution to the sector and are already engaged in important initiative.

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Salah Elhajjhassan

Salah Elhajjhassan

Mr Hajj Hassan, a national of Lebanon, holds a Ph.D. in Plant Production from the University of Agriculture, Damascus, Syria; a Master of Science degree in Plant Production and a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Engineering, both from the American University of Beirut, Lebanon.
He started his career in 1984, as Senior Research Assistant in the Agricultural Research and Education Centre (AREC), American University of Beirut. From 1987 to 1991, he was Coordinator of the Student Training Programme, and also Agriculture and Horticultural Teacher for the Faculty of Agriculture, at the Lebanese University.
From 1991 to 1995, he worked as Agricultural Engineer at the Ministry of Agriculture, Bekaa Regional Office, Zahlah and was then assigned to the Agricultural Research Institute in the Tal Amara station, first as Head of the Crop Production Department and subsequently in charge of the Plant Protection Laboratory. From 2002 to 2006, he was Director of the Kfardane Research Station (Agricultural Research Institute). In 2008, he became Visiting Scientist at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT) and Coordinator of a project with the International Centre for Atomic Energy Agency, Vienna.
In 2010, he served as Advisor to the Minister for Agriculture of Lebanon. In 2011, he became President of the Pesticide Scientific Committee, Head of the Phytoplasma Committee and Director of the Agriculture and Rural Development Programme (ARDP) (EU-funded project). From 2010 to 2013, he represented Lebanon in negotiations with EU, Egypt, Jordan and Iraq. During his career, Mr Hajj Hassan also carried out a number of other functions. He represented the Lebanese Agricultural Research Institute (LARI) in several research programmes with the International Centre for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) and the American University of Beirut. He was Coordinator of the Mashreq/Maghreb project with ICARDA, representing Lebanon in the Steering Committee, as well as being the Head of the Sugar-beet Delivery and of the Wheat Delivery Committees. For a number of years, Mr Hajj Hassan worked for the preparation of FAO TCP projects and served as the National Director of a TCP project. He joined FAO in January 2014 as FAO Representative in Yemen. Mr Hajj Hassan succeeds Mr El Zubi as FAO Representative in Iraq.

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