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November 21, 2003
John, from Hawaii writes:
We visited the agriculture college which is part of Baghdad University; we visited with a representative group of the Governing Council; we visited the agriculture ministry and then we travelled to northern Iraq to visit various agriculture related enterprises in that area.
Northern Iraq is more developed in many respects because after the first war with Iraq it was part of the no-fly zone and not as subject to the reign of Saddam Hussein.
They have made a number of reforms in the north which we believe can serve as an example of what can be done in other parts of the country. We found the people we visited with throughout the country were very receptive with what the US is doing in Iraq and happy with the assistance we are providing.
Mary, from St. Paul, Minnesota writes:
Thus food aide has been important to Afghanistan.
We also assessed the agriculture work that was being done with the provicial reconstruction team in Afghanistan. These teams are going into local areas around the country to work with communities in rebuilding multiple sectors of the economy.
In Iraq, the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture working with Australian counterparts have been instrumental in rebuilding the agricultural ministry after the reign of Saddam Hussein. We also had the opportunity to visit with farmers and other government officials to talk about the building of Iraq and the agriculture sector in particular. I also had the opportunity to visit with women in both countries about the status of women as the reconstruction takes place.
Josh, from Lynchburg, Va. writes:
In response to your question about what would agrciulture in Iraq, one of the things that was most needed was information on current farming practices, research, better laboratory equipment for agriculture related laboratories, and repair of water and irrigation systems in certain parts of the country.
Having been to a college in Iraq, we discussed partnerships among U.S. colleges and universities and those in Iraq. Agriculture remains a very important industry in Iraq while many people do not believe that Iraq would have much agriculture, it is indeed a country rich in natural resources and water and a prime agriculture region.
It is home to the Tigris and Euphrates rivers which many call the birthplace of modern agriculture.
Sarah, from Boulder writes:
Both also produce poultry and meat and each country has areas that are better suited to produce certain crops than others -- much like we see in the United States.
Agriculture in both countries is in need of repair of irrigation systems, updating of technology and technical assistance to farmers.
Branden, from San Francisco writes:
We did have a significant amount of security in Baghdad so we felt safe everywhere we traveled. Saddam Hussein had several palaces around Iraq, many of which we were able to see best as we flew over Baghdad.
One of those palaces is where the Coalition Provisional Authority is housed as I indicated before. Saddam Hussein clearly spent large amounts of money building palaces for himself and his family while he allowed infrastructure around the country to deteriorate and he deprived the Iraqi citizens of basic living necessities.
One person described living in Iraq under Saddam Hussein, "it was like living in a prison."
Again, people all around the country are enthusiastic about life after Saddam Hussein and are working to rebuild the country.
Jody, from California writes:
All of that is changing. Women are generally still covering their heads now feel free to have their faces uncovered. Girls are going to school and women are allowed to be employed and are making a contribution to society.
We had the opportunity to visit a woman's bakery -- one of 30 or more -- around Kabul. These bakeries were established by the world food program and they employ women to bake bread which is made available to very poor women at a reduced cost to help feed their families.
In Iraq, women are attending the University. There are two women who are part of the Governing Council and one woman is the Minister of Public Works in the new government. Women in Iraq are playing a role in re-establishing the government and are employed in ministries and there are many professional women in the country.
laurabushfan, from Rockford,Illinois writes:
We also visited a health clinic where education classes were being made available to illiterate women who had been denied the chance to get an opportunity earlier in their lives.
In Iraq, as I indicated, we were able to visit a college. Applications for that college were up from 1,200 last year to 2,000 this year. This, in my view, indicates the hope and increased interest in education since the fall of Saddam Hussein.
Also, when we were in Erbil in Northern Iraq, we had the chance to see some young children as they had just gotten out of school. They were happy, running and playing and they all wore school uniforms.
David, from Oldwick, NJ writes:
As I indicated earlier, one of the things that we noted in the countries we visited (Afghanistan, Iraq and Uzbekistan) is that each has diverse agricultural sectors producing not only feed grains, but also specialty crops such as fruits and vegetables much like what we see produced in California.
Tim, from Cleethorpes, England writes: