Five land-grant universities will lead a USDA-sponsored effort to strengthen ag extension and training in Iraq as a means of helping the new democracy feed itself.

Made possible by a $5.3-million grant, the effort is led by Texas A&M University (TAMU) and includes New Mexico State, Washington State and Utah State universities, as well as the University of California-Davis. Texas' Prairie View A&M and Dine College in Tsaile, AZ, along with universities in Iraq, will also contribute.

"This project is of tremendous importance to the Iraqi people, because only through agriculture can hope for a better future be achieved," Elsa Murano, TAMU vice chancellor and dean of ag and life sciences, tells DTN.

Ag is Iraq's second-largest economic contributor. The consortium will focus their efforts on arid crop production, water management, livestock production and market development.

"A nation's ability to feed its people is a key building block for political stability," says U.S. Rep. Chet Edwards (D-TX), "which is why this project is so important for the future of Iraq and that vital region of the world."
-- Alaina Burt