Kurdistan Regional Government
MON, 21 JAN 2019 14:13 Erbil, GMT +3

KRG presents agriculture and water resources opportunities and challenges at London conference

MON, 19 NOV 2012 21:15 | KRG Cabinet

London, UK (uk.krg.org) – The Kurdistan Regional Government's UK Representation this week hosted the first Kurdistan agriculture and water resources conference in London, inviting British expertise and investment to assist with the development of these rapidly growing sectors. 

Agriculture is one of the priority sectors for the KRG’s development plan while over a quarter of a billion US dollars’ worth of private investment is devoted to the sector. The KRG also has a forward-looking strategy to sustainably develop its rich water resources.

The conference was attended by a trade delegation from Kurdistan led by two ministers. Minister Falah Mustafa Bakir, Head of the Department of Foreign Relations, and Professor Serwan Baban, Minister of Agriculture and Water Resources, made keynote speeches at the conference along with Lord de Mauley, Minister at the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Other key participants included Baroness Nicholson, Nadhim Zahawi MP, as well as senior Kurdish officials including Nawroz Mawlood, Director General at the Kurdistan Board of Investment, and Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman, the KRG's Representative to the UK.

The KRG ministers, Ms Mawlood and Ms Abdul Rahman also met with Britain’s Minister for the Middle East, Alistair Burt, to discuss ways to further strengthen bilateral relations with the UK, including in agricultural development.

The KRG’s Board of Investment, which promotes the private sector investment in the region, presented more investment opportunities to over 130 British companies and producers which attended the two-day conference, in four agricultural fields including farming, red meat and milk, fisheries and forestry.

Some private sector investment has already seen success in Kurdistan for example in projects such as the production of chicken and eggs, cucumbers, and mushrooms.

Water resources form an important part of building Kurdistan’s sustainable future. The KRG's plans to develop its water riches for domestic use, drinking, and for agricultural uses such as implementing the irrigation projects, and building of wells and water dams, were also discussed at the conference.

Professor Baban outlined plans to achieve food and water sufficiency and security for the people of Kurdistan, and to withstand the inevitable global environmental factors such as the climate change and food and water shortages.

Reviving and rehabilitating the rural way of life is a huge challenge, said the Minister, because Kurdistan’s agriculture suffered from total devastation and years of neglect. “However, our region has many assets and agriculture is an essential part of our society and economy and it is now our priority.” He further emphasised the KRG’s encouragement of private sector engagement and called for help from the British experts in farming, food production, quality assurance, research, marketing, regulatory and legislative processes.

Minister Bakir spoke about the broader economy, pointing out GDP is expected to grow by about 12 per cent this year. He said, "The KRG has identified the areas of agriculture, industry and tourism as priorities for development by both the public and private sector. Agriculture and industry are both seeing significant growth, and with now more than two million tourists visiting the Region a year, and Erbil has recently been selected as the tourism capital of the Middle East for 2014."

In her opening speech, Ms Abdul Rahman thanked UK Trade and Investment for its support in organising this conference which, she said, reflects the many-faceted relationship that now exists between the UK and Kurdistan Region. “Our relations are not only strong in terms of trade and investment, but also in cultural and educational exchange, training in all fields and a mutual respect of each other’s aspirations and values," she said.

The conference also heard from Kurdish companies as well as civil servants on subjects ranging from how to bring Kurdish fruit to British supermarkets to how satellite imaging can help with information on harvesting. On the sidelines of the conference, one-to-one meetings were held and the on the second day, presentations were made by businesses.

Please click here to read the conference agenda