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Iraqi officials to gain Australian agricultural expertise.



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AA 04 064 Friday 13 August 2004

Iraqi officials to gain Australian agricultural expertise

A group of 25 Iraqi Agriculture officials will today arrive in Western Australia as part of the Australian government’s ongoing support to the reconstruction of Iraq.

The group is the first of 100 officials from the Iraqi Agriculture Ministry who over the next 18 months, will study in Australia for a Graduate Certificate in Agribusiness.

The course, covering agricultural policy and management, agribusiness systems and English, will be conducted through the WA Department of Agriculture and Curtin University.

Each group will stay for four and a half months.

The Iraqis will also work with WA businesses to see first-hand how local agricultural systems operate.

This $5 million program is a very practical demonstration of Australia’s humanitarian commitment to helping the Iraqi people with the vital task of reconstruction, particularly in agriculture.

Iraq is also an important customer for Australian produce, especially wheat, and this program will strengthen links between Iraqi and Australian institutions and businesses bringing long term benefits to both countries.

The training will help the Iraqi ministry to modernise after decades of centralised management, isolation and neglect.

Australia has already committed over $125 million in assistance to Iraq with $45 million for reconstruction focused mainly on agriculture, where Australian expertise in dry land irrigation and grain distribution is well suited.

Australia is helping re-establish the Iraqi Agriculture Ministry with a team of advisers based in Baghdad since April 2003. Australia has also funded the refurbishment of the Iraqi Agriculture Ministry and the Grains Board head office. Logistics advisers played an important role in helping the Board maintain essential imports of wheat and rice and in improving systems.

Australia’s assistance aims to improve food security for ordinary Iraqi people and to help Iraq’s transition from a centralised, command controlled economy to an open, market-based economy.

Media inquiries: Chris Kenny (Ministerial) 02 6277 7500 or 0419 206 890 Jo Elsom (AusAID) 02 6206 4960 or 0412 804 489

Media releases and speeches are available on AusAID’s website www.ausaid.gov.au