News: Agriculture exhibit brings community together
Story by: Sgt. Ry Norris
CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE SPEICHER, Iraq – An Agricultural Exhibition and Trade Show took place at Tikrit University, Iraq, Sept. 27 and 28.
The Salah ad Din Agricultural Task Force at Tikrit University and the Salah ad Din Provincial Reconstruction Team sponsored the exhibit.
“This was the first time the exhibit has taken place in Salah ad Din,” said Tom Pick, a SaD PRT agricultural advisor. “Normally, the exhibit is in Baghdad, not in the smaller provinces. However, during the Sadam regime, the farmers were guaranteed profit since the government provided subsidized seeds in return for subsidized crops. Now, the farmers have to market their products. This [exhibit] is giving them that opportunity.”
Salah ad Din’s PRT made the trip with soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Advise and Assist Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, both days to observe the event.
“You could barely walk through the place yesterday without bumping into someone,” said Saud Latif Ahmmed, a farmer. “There is a great variety of things for us to use.”
Spectators walked through a crowded room as business owners and vendors displayed their merchandise. Products included items ranging from fruits and vegetable packaging to supplies for hoop houses and plastic covered greenhouses.
Most of the were from Inma, which means “growth” in Arabic. It is an agricultural program set up by USAID to work with the SaD Provincial Reconstruction Team to assist the agricultural business and market in Iraq. Inma offered the fruit and vegetable packaging free of charge at the event to help farmers keep their produce fresh longer. With temperatures as high as 125 degrees Fahrenheit, fresh produce deteriorates at a more rapid pace.
Others, like Ayoub Mahmoud Ahmed, sought to increase sales at the event. He is an authorized vendor of Varuna, a company that specializes in producing pumps and motors for deep water wells. The company showcased its various products at the convention, comparing the quality difference between a pump made in India versus one in China.
“I like the idea behind this event,” said Ayoub Ahmed. “It gives me a chance to display my products to many who might not have known about them. I hope to see an increase in sales from this [exhibit].”