New publication: From Producers to Consumers: The Challenges and Opportunities of Agricultural Development in Iraqi Kurdistan

A paper that I’ve been working on since 2014 is finally done. Some papers take longer than others to mature, especially when they integrate different disciplinary perspectives.


This paper is about agriculture in the Duhok governorate of Iraqi Kurdistan, the area i focused on in my PhD thesis. So in a way, this is an extension of my PhD project. The paper is published in a special issue called “Understanding the Patterns, Drivers and Consequences of Agricultural Land Use Change and Land-Use Intensity” and co-authored with my friends and colleagues Hakim Abdi and Mine Islar.

I had a video editing workshop this week so I decided to make a video abstract for the paper, watch it here:

Below is the regular abstract:
Agriculture and rural life in the Middle East have gone through several changes in the past few decades. The region is characterized by high population growth, urbanization, and water scarcity, which poses a challenge to maintaining food security and production. This paper investigates agricultural and rural challenges in the Duhok governorate of Iraqi Kurdistan from biophysical, political, and socio-economic perspectives. Satellite data is used to study land use and productivity, while a review of government policies and interview data show the perspectives of the government and the local population. Our results reveal that these perspectives are not necessarily in line with each other, nor do they correspond well with the biophysical possibilities. While the government has been trying to increase agricultural productivity, satellite data show that yields have been declining since 2000. Furthermore, a lack of services in rural areas is driving people to cities to seek better opportunities, which means that the local population’s incentive to increase agricultural activity is low. Governmental plans suggest land extensification to increase production and self-sufficiency, but the land use classification shows little available land. Instead, we recommend supporting small-scale traditional agriculture development as a more sustainable and feasible alternative. Additionally, more resources need to be focused on improving rural infrastructure and services to increase access to education and health care as a means of gaining support from the local population.
Keywords: food production; land productivity; Kurdistan Region of Iraq; land use; land productivity

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