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 Agriculture: The undermined and mismanaged sector of Kurdistan's economy 

 Analysis — Opinion
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Agriculture: The undermined and mismanaged sector of Kurdistan's economy  11.8.2008 
By Rauf Naqishbendi

August 11, 2008

Agriculture is a crucial sector of any economy, significantly important to the lifeline of any nation. Similarly, one of the oldest and noblest professions known to man is farming, the means by which food is created to sustain people and their livestock. Historically, farming has provided a livelihood for the majority of individuals, and many industries continue to depend on farming. During prolonged times of war, successful farm enterprise can be an issue of national security. Even in today´s world, with the ease of international transportation, nations strive to be self-sufficient by producing enough food for domestic consumption.

In modern days, science and technology create experimental trials to pursue better seeding, cultivation, land fertility, product preservation, refrigeration, and packaging. In most countries, subsidies and incentives are provided to maintain this crucial sector of economy.      

Rauf Naqishbendi
In the United States the government provides financial and technological assistance to encourage farmers to grow certain crops, so those crops will not be lacking while others are overproduced. By studying the need and consumption, government subsidies to farmers can balance production and encourage compliance.

Agriculture, like any other aspect of life, need to be nourished and cared for. Yet, in Kurdistan farming has becoming the poor man´s profession and is disregarded by leadership. Construction is now the emphasis, not because it is crucial but because the bigger the business, the wider the opportunity for leadership and its cronies to receive greater kickbacks. As a result, the agriculture sector of the economy has remained unregulated and undermined.

Kurdistan is an agrarian country. For thousands of year people farmed to feed themselves and raise their cattle. Kurdistan is a country with vast landscapes and wilderness to raise cattle, has an abundance of water, and is one of the most fertile lands in the world. There is no excuse, therefore, for Kurds to import food or produce. Nowadays, most of the food and produce consumed in Kurdistan finds its way from Iran and Turkey. This is as ridiculous as it can be, because almost anything grown in Turkey or Iran could be raised in Kurdistan.

Farming in general is not profitable unless the farmer has a vast piece of property. Decades ago in Kurdistan there was a distribution of land resulting in each farmer having a small farm, barely enough to make a good living. Most recently, with the boom in construction, many farmers have migrated to rural areas seeking better living conditions.

Cities and towns across Kurdistan are experiencing shortages of fresh milk and dairy products, particularly butter and cheese. Almost all of these products are imported. Dairy at an affordable price is required to build a healthy nation, particularly to provide for the healthy growth of children. As it stands, few farmers can produce enough dairy products to feed their own family; therefore, they exchange the little they produce for money to cover their needs.

There is a lack of dairy farms in Kurdistan, the dairy industry being comprised of small farmers with limited output. Kurdistan has a dire need for farms to produce dairy products in quantities that meet the population's demand. Natural and human resources to support dairy farms are available. Several universities in Kurdistan have adequate expertise to design, plan,
www.ekurd.netand support this industry with minimum foreign help. Should this industry, for profitability´s sake, become unfeasible, and entrepreneurs disinclined to invest, it is imperative that the government offer subsidies or incentives to engage the private sector or for the government to take over.

Another problem is the occasional shortage of water. Most of the time Kurdistan enjoys a good amount of rainfall and snowfall, most of which is absorbed by the dirt without material benefit. Even so, bottles of water are imported from Iran and Turkey . Shortages of water can be severe during years when there isn´t enough rain. However, the water supply could easily be balanced through the creation of dams. Building dams in Kurdistan is crucial as it would ease access to water for drinking and farming during times of shortage. There are two main dams in in Kurdistan : Darbandykhan and Dwkan. Both of these dams were originally constructed to help Arabs in the south. Their benefit to the Kurdish region is not only minimal, but the dams also cover vast areas of the most fertile lands.

Kurdistan has been neglected for a long time, resulting in a cumulative need for work in every sector of the economy. The challenges are plenty and the opportunities are great; yet the needs are copious and some are urgent. This is a test for leadership as how they will prioritize needs and assign resources to the tasks on hand to yield satisfactory outcomes. Kurdish leadership knows they need advisors and consultations, but their egos render them infallible in their illusionary minds, thus hindering the necessary teamwork to propel the nation forward.

In view of the aforementioned needs of the nation, especially the need to create a healthier society and better economy, Kurdish leaders have misplaced their priorities. They have gone out of their way to create recreation centers such as luxury hotels and golf courses and glamorous shopping malls in Irbil , while there is shortage of clean drinking water and fresh milk. The only people who can use these extravagant accommodations are the family members and cronies of leadership. Kurdish leaders are hard at work to accommodate moneyed people while ignoring the needs of the masses, most of whom are poor. The substandard living conditions endured by villagers in Kurdistan are disheartening. They lack proper healthcare, education, and clean drinking water, as well as poor transportation.

Suffice it to say, benevolent attention by Kurdish leaders is the greater need of the general public. The nobility of any leadership is measured by their determination and success in lifting the poor of the nation from their financial hardships and providing adequate planning to warrant the well-being of the masses. Rest assured, Kurdish leaders are governing without any plan for their people, but instead are acting with well-managed corruption to feed into their greed.

Rauf Naqishbendi is a contributing columnist for Kurdish Websites, American Chronicle and has written Op/Ed pages for the Los Angeles Times. He has just completed his memoirs entitled "The Garden Of The Poets" which reads as a novel depicting his experience and the subsequent 1988 bombing of his hometown with chemical and biological weapons by Saddam Hussein. It is the story of his people's suffering. Rauf Naqishbendi is a software engineer in San Francisco Bay Area.

The contents of this article reflect the author's personal opinions, and we accept no responsibility for the views or opinions expressed in the articles either direct or indirect.

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