Agriculture is an essential sector that has a great potential that can be exploited to revitalize the economy, developing this sector would accelerate non-oil growth, promote food security and self-sufficiency, and create job opportunities, decrease poverty and unemployment.

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This publication is part of Business LANDSCAPE series which a series of research publication aims to highlight the current situation of Iraq’s economy and private sector through publishing researches and data and make it freely available for the benefit of investors, and the local and international community 

This study is published in partnership with GIZ


Iraq is heavily reliant on oil, as oil revenues have been the spine of the economy and the main contributor to exports and remain so even with the halt of oil prices and market demand. This led to neglecting the opportunities that lie in other sectors that could diversify and support the economy.

Agriculture is an essential sector that has a great potential that can be exploited to revitalize the economy, developing this sector would accelerate non-oil growth, promote food security and self-sufficiency, and create job opportunities, decrease poverty and unemployment.

The report provides an overview of the agriculture sector and explores its different aspects.


Although historically Mesopotamia has been the cradle of early civilizations that prospered due to agricultural practices. The sector historically has suffered in the past of poorly made decisions and policies, mismanagement, and lack of development and investment. Besides, the conflict and violence due to the ISIS crisis have inflicted great damage on this sector in particular as many agricultural lands, crops, the harvest has been damaged.


The report also tackles the persistent issues this sector suffers from. The water-stressed region still employs unsustainable old irrigation methods such as surface irrigation and flooding, which leads to water waste, increases salinity that in return decreases the productivity of the land. Also, the lack of investment and maintenance of irrigation networks and agricultural technologies in addition to the international water resources issues that display a lack of effort to regulate water consumption.


The government is taking steps toward stimulating the growth of this sector by implementing and proposing different policies such as banning imports of some fresh produce and agricultural items, providing subsidized agricultural supplies, machinery, seeds, and fertilizers, fighting dumpling policies, and providing open market access, providing loans to the agricultural bank and increasing investment. The agriculture sector was also a part of the National Development Plan. This sector has also gained the attention of international organizations. An outlook of several projects, partners, key achievements, funding has also been provided.

Education also plays a crucial part in the development of this sector, in this report we provide a brief of how agricultural education is carried in the main universities across the country. The first time this sector was integrated into the higher education institutes was in 1952 when the University of Baghdad Established the College of Agricultural Engineering Sciences, the college expanded later to include research units and postgraduate studies. Today it has 27,325 undergraduate alumni and 3,542 postgraduate alumni. Vocational schools also provide agricultural education in 10 schools located in different provinces.


The report also explores the agricultural sector in the MENA region. Agriculture contributes to around 13% of the MENA GDP; countries like Egypt and Iran produce almost half of the agricultural output of the region. In addition, we take a look at the most recent development, the latest agricultural technologies, and innovative solutions that are transforming and solving key issues that the sector is currently suffering from. A shift toward sustainable agriculture practices like smart farming in a controlled environment, hydroponics, and vertical farming has been introduced to combat the scarcity of resources and the harsh climate conditions of the region. MENA countries especially members of the Gulf Cooperation Council have been investing in startups like Pure Harvest, VeggiTech, AeroFarms, and Madar Farms that aim to foster growth in agriculture and decrease the dependence on food imports.


To conclude we provide a comprehensive list of recommendations on how to exploit opportunities to further develop agriculture in Iraq. Also, we highlight key actions that could transform and modernize the reality of agriculture and emphasize its essential role in the economy as a whole.