CTAHR Awarded $3.7 Million Grant to Help Strengthen and Rehabilitate Agricultural Programs at Iraqi Universities

UH Manoa to partner with Iraqi universities in efforts to revitalize agricultural education and development in Iraq

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Posted: Oct 27, 2003

The University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa‘s College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR) recently received a $3.7 million grant from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), as part of its Higher Education and Development (HEAD) Program, to assist in revitalizing agricultural higher education and development in Iraq. This is one of three grants awarded so far by USAID under the HEAD Program following a national competition among universities.

CTAHR faculty will engage and collaborate with administrators, faculty and students at two Iraqi universities—University of Mosul‘s College of Agriculture and Forestry and University of Dohuk‘s College of Agriculture—to establish a Center of Excellence in agricultural education, research, extension and training in northern Iraq. Once established, it is hoped that the Center of Excellence will serve as a catalyst to rebuild and strengthen other universities and, in turn, the agricultural industry in Iraq.

In addition to UH Mānoa, the International Center for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas (ICARDA) and several supporting international and national consortia are also participating as cooperating institutions in what is being called the "Hawaiʻi-Iraq Partnership for Revitalizing Agricultural Higher Education and Development (AHEAD)."

"With an economy primarily dominated by oil revenues, it is often overlooked that Iraq remains predominantly an agricultural nation," said Samir A. El-Swaify, professor and chair of CTAHR‘s Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Management and project director for the grant.

"Agricultural revitalization has high potential for addressing Iraq‘s food security needs positively and quickly, and revitalizing higher education in agricultural sciences is a critical step toward revitalizing the industry and achieving self-reliance in the country," said El-Swaify.

In addition to El-Swaify, CTAHR faculty participating in the project include Catherine Chan-Halbrendt, associate dean for research; Ekhlass Jarjees, entomologist; Ali Fares, assistant professor of watershed and soil hydrology; and Sahar Zaghloul, assistant professor of nutrition. Additional UH faculty members have also expressed interest in being involved in various phases of the program.

The primary objectives of the project are to strengthen academic programs and extension training in agricultural sciences at both universities and to rehabilitate the research infrastructure and agricultural research programs, particularly at the University of Mosul (UM). The second largest university in Iraq, UM has been one of the prominent educational and research centers in the Middle East. It occupies a special niche in northern Iraq, within the Nineveh Governorate, which is considered one of the country‘s major agricultural "breadbaskets".

UM‘s mandate and focus areas are comparable to those of CTAHR—its College of Agriculture and Forestry is a comprehensive institution that offers a wide spectrum of agricultural and supporting sciences covering physical, biological, engineering, and socio-economic specializations. It serves a multi-ethnic and multi-religion population, a demography, which although not identical to Hawaiʻi‘s, is similarly diverse.

The USAID Higher Education and Development Program calls for the establishment of partnerships between United States and Iraqi colleges and universities to revitalize, invigorate and modernize Iraq‘s institutions of higher education. The goals of these partnerships are to improve higher education and teacher training, and to stimulate economic growth and agricultural sustainability throughout Iraq. The grants are awarded for one-year with the possibility of two one-year extensions.