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Contact: Ron Holbrook
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Wednesday, May 5--Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) Administrator Ambassador L. Paul Bremer today congratulated the Iraqi Minister of Agriculture Dr. Abdul Amir. Al-Abood for his Ministry’s significant advances that led to transitioning to full authority. The transfer is part of the return of control over Iraq’s ministries to the Iraqi people.

“Today the Ministry of Agriculture with all its enormous potential for the people of Iraq is fully vested in Iraqi hands. This marks another step on Iraq’s path to sovereignty, elections and constitutional democracy,” stated Ambassador Bremer.

He remarked that Dr. Al-Abood had formed a smoothly operating team with CPA Senior Advisor Peter King and set about the business of making the Ministry serve the Iraqi people and revitalizing the important agriculture sector.

In the past year, the Ministry of Agriculture has worked to promote rural employment, increase farm income and productivity, and restore vital services to the farm community.

“The Ministry of Agriculture intends to transform Iraqi agriculture into a market based sector in which the Ministry supports farmers, processors and marketers with world class research and development and effective regulations,” said Dr. Al-Abood.

“The agriculture sector is important to Iraq,” continued Al-Abood. “It provides food income to 30 percent of the population and job opportunities to a minimum of 20 percent of the labor force.”

He thanked CPA “and especially our American and Australian friends” for aid in developing a transition plan for revitalizing Iraq’s agriculture.

“The future of agriculture in Iraq is bright,” said Mr. King, CPA Senior Advisor for Agriculture. “Unlocking the potential of agriculture for future generations of Iraqis will be the role of the Ministry in the years to come.”

The Iraqi Ministry of Agriculture is one the first ministries to complete the transition process. The transition signifies the Ministry has developed short and long-term strategic plans, a budget and an administrative reorganization. Fundamental management systems have been put in place and a system of checks and balances has been implemented to deter and root out corruption.

Under the leadership of Dr. Al-Abood and Peter King, the Ministry of Agriculture has made important progress in the rebuilding of Iraq’s agriculture infrastructure with significant results:

• Reopening of the Ministry of Agriculture’s headquarters last year and renovating and securing 118 warehouses around the country to provide vital services to farmers.

• Developing quick-impact activities to stimulate agricultural production that included rehabilitating agriculture colleges, procuring and distributing veterinary medicines, rehabilitating veterinary clinics and demonstrating new crop technology.

• Restoring the marshlands, a $4 million initiative in the south for developing a river basin, fisheries and improving the living standards of the Marsh dwellers.

• Establishing date palm nurseries in 13 governorates to help restore Iraq’s once dominant position in the international date market.

• Increasing the Ministry of Agriculture’s budget by more than $265 million. Under Saddam in 2002, only $3.5 million was spent on agriculture. The 2004 estimated expenditures for the Ministry of Agriculture is $269 million.

The Coalition will continue to provide technical assistance as requested by the Iraqi Ministry of Agriculture and will work to enhance the growth and future of agriculture in Iraq.

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