Representatives of Iraq's Ministry of Agriculture visit the Carvel Research and Education Center in Georgetown.

Middle East farming

Iraq delegation learns about agriculture in the U.S.

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9:54 a.m., May 13, 2011--Six representatives of Iraq’s Ministry of Agriculture visited facilities of the University of Delaware College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) last month to learn more about agriculture in the U.S., with presentations ranging from environmental safeguards to poultry disease control.

The Iraq delegation toured the CANR dairy farm on the Newark campus and the Elbert N. and Ann V. Carvel Research and Education Center in Georgetown on April 8.

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At the CANR dairy farm, the group learned about the use of environmentally sound management practices that sustain productivity and protect water quality.

They also examined how the CANR farm implements a comprehensive nutrient management plan that addresses nutrient balance and best management practices in order to use fertilizers and manures in a manner that optimizes plant and animal productivity and protects air, soil and water quality.

The delegation traveled to the Carvel Center for a presentation on how research and Cooperative Extension come together in a working agriculture experimental substation.

At the Carvel Center, Daniel Bautista, senior scientist in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences, explained UD's central role in diagnosing poultry diseases and how efficiently the industry responds to any disease threat. 

Bautista outlined how fast-response tracheal swabbing through UD's Lasher Laboratory provides growers with unbiased advice on how to deal with poultry disease and is a model for the poultry industry.

Yonis Saab Najim, one of the members of the delegation who is a poultry farmer in Iraq, was particularly interested in energy costs. In Iraq, Najim said, reliable electricity is an issue and he has no alternative but to rely on costly generators, which makes Iraq poultry farming very challenging.

The Iraqis also expressed interest in disease control and had many questions regarding disease response, and the thoroughness of bio-secure practices that are put in place should a disease outbreak present itself.

The delegation members have been studying at the UD English Language Institute (ELI) since Jan. 3, and they all hold unique positions within Iraq’s ministry -- one is a soil scientist, two are horticulturalists, one is a poultry farmer, one works in agricultural economics, and one works with field crops.

Working closely with the group during their stay at ELI were Scott Stevens, center director for ELI, and Chris Pinkerton, a supplemental faculty member at ELI.

Stevens said that he felt like the friendships and connections that the delegation made during their stay at UD will help create a strong link between the state and the country in the future. “Iraq has a rich history in agriculture and as the country increasingly enjoys peace it may be that DE has some strong linkages to build on with trade and educational exchanges down the road.”

Pinkerton explained that during their time at ELI, they “added a dynamic to their classrooms which exhibited both a great work and study ethic and warm personal interaction. Personally, as their academic coordinator, I enjoyed their humorous banter, warmth of family-like friendship, and a high level of mutual respect.”

The six individuals from the Iraqi ministry are: Ammar AlNamrawi, Eman Khudiar, Wameedh Sabri, Saad Abdulrasool, Saadoon Awad, and Yonis Najim. They come from a number of provinces in Iraq including Karbala, Ramadi, and Al-Anbar.

Article by Adam Thomas and Michele Walfred

Photos by Michele Walfred

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