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5 August 2003


Weekly Update



Education and Agriculture Will Benefit  From New Funding Approvals for Iraq 


The Security Council 661 Committee this week agreed to a request from the Office of the Iraq Programme to fund text book production for 5.5 million Iraqi students and 25,000 teacher trainees in the 2003/2004 academic year. The $72.3 million project submitted by UNICEF, the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), and interim Iraqi Ministries of Education and Higher Education, aims to print more than 66 million copies of newly edited primary, intermediate, preparatory and vocational textbooks for nationwide distribution.


As much printing as possible will be done inside Iraq to boost local capacity and job opportunities. In past years, the Ministry of Education recycled 50 per cent of the nation’s textbooks each year and printed just 10 per cent of the new stock locally.


Most of Iraq’s existing textbooks and education resources were looted or burned following the war. Adding to the replacement challenge for 2003/2004, is a decision to edit propagandist statements from school texts without changing the educational content. Some 509 titles are up for replacement this year.


Boost for Agriculture

Also approved this week were:

-     a $104.1 million project submitted by FAO, the CPA and the Interim Ministry of Agriculture for fertilizer for Iraq’s winter wheat and barley crops; and

-     $6.8 million for fungicides to control ‘smut’ - a disease affecting wheat and barley seeds.


Fertilizer: The import of 140,000 metric tonnes of di-ammonium phosphate and 350,000 metric tonnes of urea was approved to cover for the inability of national factories to meet demand due to shortages of natural gas, spare parts and skilled manpower.


Fungicide: Wheat and barley are Iraq’s most important food crops. Both are vulnerable to fungus and crop losses ranging from 10 to 30 per cent if seeds are not treated. Flour produced from infected grain is grey in colour and contains toxins that make it unfit for human consumption. In past years, Iraqi farmers were given treated seeds as well as fungicides to cover any additional needs. However the war disrupted their supply lines. The urgent import of 375 metric tonnes of fungicide will enable the Ministry of Agriculture to treat some 250,000 metric tonnes of seed - about 70 per cent of the total – for the coming season. The treated seeds will be distributed to some 520,000 farm families and is expected to boost their total wheat and barley output by up to 125,000 metric tonnes, valued at about $12 million.


Funding Approvals

This week’s approvals flow from weekly meetings of UN and Iraqi experts and advisors from the CPA. The adoption of Security Council resolution 1483 (22 May) provides for the prioritization of goods and supplies considered by all parties to have “relative utility” based on preliminary assessments of Iraq’s needs.


The meetings have so far produced a list of 2,061 prioritized contracts valued at almost $3.4 billion for early delivery. In addition to agriculture and education needs, the prioritized contracts so far include machinery, vehicles, spare parts, and medicines for the health, water and sanitation, electricity, telecommunication and oil sectors.


Food basket

Food ration deliveries into Iraq from regional hubs and from the Port of Umm Qasr totaled 386,020 metric tonnes in July, bringing the level of total dispatches since April to 1.6 million metric tonnes. Prior to the war, some 60 per cent of the population were dependent on the monthly food ration ‘basket’.

Additional information is available from the website of the Office of the Iraq Programme. For further information please contact Ian Steele email: steelei@un.org