Iran and Kurdistan could use some Dutch water aid

Farmer fixing a water through drought NSW Australia

Agriculture in the Islamic Republic of Iran and in its neighboring Arab country Iraq is struggling with erosion, salinization and desiccation. Dutch knowledge can help make the food system in both countries more productive and sustainable. That is what the Dutch agricultural council in Tehran, Marion van Schaik, says. 

“Iran and Iraq want to move towards greater self-sufficiency. Their need for knowledge about efficient and sustainable food production and processing as well as about suitable crop species is great. The focus is mainly on the Netherlands," said Van Schaik in 

Political tensions between Iran and the rest of the world have had a major impact on the country for many years. And Iraq is trying to rebuild the economy after years of civil war. More food production is crucial in both countries. 

Due to the international tensions, the economic situation and the Covid pandemic, exports from the Netherlands to Iran have fallen sharply, including agro-exports. Yet there are still contacts between our country and Iran.

Water is an important theme in Iranian agriculture. Last year was an extremely dry year. This leads to major problems in central Iran and in the south, such as the salinization of agricultural land. Efficient use of water is high on the agenda. 

The greenhouse area has increased by 6,000 hectares in recent years. According to Van Schaik, Dutch horticultural companies would support bieden with further expansion, for example in the field of climate control systems in greenhouses.

In Kurdistan in the north of Iraq, the Netherlands is involved in the reconstruction of agriculture. Consultants are carrying out research into bottlenecks in the food chain with a Dutch subsidy.

The latter also applies to salinization, a major problem in Iran and Iraq. In some areas, agricultural production is already almost impossible and farmers are moving away. There is a great need for knowledge about preventing and reducing salinization. 

According to Van Schaik Agricultural Council, the cultivation of salt-tolerant crops also has prospects. “Dutch knowledge institutions and companies have already provided support through seminars and local studies. We will try to expand this knowledge exchange in the coming years.”