From being a smallholder-based, food-producing country covering its basic needs, Iraq and the Kurdistan Region in Iraq (KRI) have become major importers of food. The sustainability of the agricultural sector has been systematically undermined by conflict, neglect, and mismanagement, as a result of which the capacity of its farmers to feed the population declined. Even though local policymakers, the international community, and the international organisations emphasise the potential of agriculture for food production, job creation, and income generation, they also tend to consider the current food system problematic because of an alleged low productivity that they relate to the existing smallholder system. For them, such system poses a lack of competences and skills of farmers, and a subsistence production orientation. This approach culminated in a policy-making process that offered land and water for capital investments, and thus neglecting the potentials and competencies of (small-scale) farmers. The concomitant neglect of the human dimension of agriculture, namely the family farm, is essentially the continuation of an economically and ecologically high-risk approach that may lead to a further decline of the sector’s ability to produce food for the local market.
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