Reconstruction Team works to improve agriculture for Iraqi farmers

1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division
Story by Sgt. Shejal Pulivarti

Date: 11.29.2007
Posted: 11.29.2007 07:39
News ID: 14272
Reconstruction Team works to improve agriculture for Iraqi farmers

By Spc. Shejal Pulivarti
1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division Public Affairs

CAMP TAJI, Iraq –The Baghdad 5 Embedded Provincial Reconstruction Team, attached to the 1st "Ironhorse" Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, is closely coordinating with the Inma (growth in Arabic) Agribusiness Program, to work with Iraqi farmers in the region.

The U.S. Agency for International Development recently awarded the contract for the Inma Agribusiness Program in Iraq to Louis Berger Group, Inc., to work with the government of Iraq to support the development of agribusinesses and agricultural markets.

The group, consisting of livestock, produce and irrigation experts toured the entire Ironhorse Brigade's area of operations, Nov. 27, scouting promising farming areas and developing ways for farmers to maximize their overall productivity by improving the agriculture business.

"It's to help build important relationships between farmers, agribusiness, financial services, and domestic and international markets," said Ronald Curtis, the USAID agriculture advisor and program manager for the Inma project, explaining one of the project's goals.

"It's assessed by value chains, we track the product starting at the producer, follow it through the process it takes to make it usable and all the way to the market," said Curtis, who hails from Pocatello, Idaho. "We identify and isolate the weak chain in the process and make improvements."

The program was established to help the economy grow and become self-sustaining.

"The project is going to stimulate and support private agriculture and businesses. We buy from Iraqi farmers and sell to Iraqi markets, providing more profit and employment for the region," Curtis said. "The Iraqi business people want to expand and grow."