Iraq has a deep-rooted agricultural heritage, which serves as a cornerstone of rural communities throughout the country. Iraqi farmers grow a large variety of crops, however, the date palm holds a particular position of prominence among Iraqis because of its role in history and its social, religious and economic importance.
Iraqi date farmers have suffered several setbacks in the past 30 years. Years of war saw the destruction of millions of date palm trees in the southern provinces. In addition, many Iraqi farmers were among the casualties, and with their lives their knowledge was lost. The decline in date production was furthered by UN sanctions, which deprived Iraqi farmers of necessary equipment, fertilizer and other agricultural needs. At the same time, the water mismanagement and the damming of key rivers in neighboring countries reduced the amount of water available for the date palm fields in southern Iraq. War related strategies also led to salinization and erosion of the soil.
By working with agricultural experts, farmers and political leaders, we can rebuild the cradle of civilization. We can educate Iraqi farmers on the latest farming techniques, provide Iraq with thousands of plants, and reintroduce lost varieties of date palms that traditionally grew in the fields of Iraq.