A Conversation with Ally-Raza Qureshi, World Food Programme Representative (WFP) in Iraq


On April 20, 2022, Rudaw Research Center (RRC) held A Conversation with Ally-Raza Qureshi, World Food Programme (WFP) Representative in Iraq on Food security in Iraq and Kurdistan Region.


According to the latest annual report of Iraq by WFP “2021 was a challenging year for Iraq: recovery was hampered by climate change, record water shortages, high unemployment rate and volatile security”[1]Also, In February this year, food prices recorded an ideal level in the world markets, In the world, the food price is rising by 20.7 per cent compared to last year, the fastest rise in food prices in decades. This is due to rising fuel prices and the Russian-Ukrainian war, but what has happened in the Kurdistan Region and Iraq is twice as high as the rate recorded in the world’s markets for food items, and food prices vary from one province to another in the Kurdistan Region and the rest of Iraq[2].

Furthermore, Iraq and Kurdistan Region struggle with chronic structural and emerging challenges that have hampered their food production over the years. Iraq’s population has been multiplying, from 23.5 million in 2000 to around 41 million Iraqis in 2022[3]. This amounts to a 74.4% increase in population in 22 years. Food supply, both locally produced and imported, has been struggling to catch up with the population growth and disruption. Moreover, Iraq’s political turmoil and instability, the cyclical conflict and ongoing tensions internally and regionally, and the corruption and mismanagement of resources exacerbate this problem.

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Mahmood Baban: Ok, let’s start, my name is Mahmood Baban. I’m a research fellow at Rudaw Research Center, let me before I begin with an introduction, I will introduce my colleagues, my left hand Mr Ziryan Rojhelati- Director of Rudaw Research Center, and my right hand, the first is Lhon Nasradin-Senior editor at Rudaw Media Network and Mr Backtyar Abdulaziz –Anchor of economic news at Rudaw Media Network.

Also, Mr Ally-Raza Qureshi joins the WFP Iraq team following a long career in humanitarian and emergency response, development and also the private sector. He is a national of Pakistan and began his career as a Chartered Accountant. Ally has worked with WFP for 20 years, starting with the Oversight Department as an internal auditor, subsequently Head of Area Office in El-Fasher, Darfur, Sudan; WFP Bangladesh Deputy Representative; and at HQ the Deputy Director for Resource Management and Programming, Deputy Director for WFP’s corporate transformative project- the Integrated Road Map and acting Director of Corporate Planning and Performance Management. Ally was recently WFP Deputy Representative in Yemen, where he successfully led the expansion of the programme to support over 13 million Yemenis. Ally is passionate about helping communities through resilience and livelihood programmes, and social protection systems addressing their needs. He is an advocate for green energy and for combating climate change.

Further, as you know according to the latest annual report of Iraq by WFP “2021 was a challenging year for Iraq: recovery was hampered by climate change, record water shortages, high unemployment rate and volatile security”[1]Also, In February this year, food prices recorded an ideal level in the world markets, In the world, the food price is rising by 20.7 per cent compared to last year, the fastest rise in food prices in decades. This is due to rising fuel prices and the Russian-Ukrainian war, but what has happened in the Kurdistan Region and Iraq is twice as high as the rate recorded in the world’s markets for food items, and food prices vary from one province to another in the Kurdistan Region and the rest of Iraq[2].

Furthermore, Iraq and Kurdistan Region struggle with chronic structural and emerging challenges that have hampered their food production over the years. Iraq’s population has been multiplying, from 23.5 million in 2000 to around 41 million Iraqis in 2022[3]. This amounts to a 74.4% increase in population in 22 years. Food supply, both locally produced and imported, has been struggling to catch up with the population growth and disruption. Moreover, Iraq’s political turmoil and instability, the cyclical conflict and ongoing tensions internally and regionally, and the corruption and mismanagement of resources exacerbate this problem.

Now I would like to give you the stage, give us a brief about the food security in Iraq and the Kurdistan region, please go ahead.

Ally-Raza Qureshi: Good morning to all of you. It’s indeed a pleasure to be here, and thank you very much for giving me the opportunity and for inviting me to be with you all. Just I think as a quick introduction, also from my side with the United Nations world food program. The world’s largest humanitarian organization as you know. Engaged both in saving lives in emergencies and using food assistance to build a pathway to peace, stability and prosperity for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change. The WFP has been working in Iraq since 1968 across the continuum of humanitarian and development programs. Recently, after the Dash (ISIS) conflict. We were supporting a large number of Iraqi in the camps, the internally displaced population and Syrian refugees living in the camps. Initially, around 4.5 million people were being assisted, currently with the return of a large number of the displaced population back to their area. We are currently serving about 255000 internally displaced people, mostly in camps in the KRG (Kurdistan Regional Government). And that includes around 55000 Syrian refugees. So when we look at it, we do have quite an extensive. I would say knowledge base around the food security information, we work very closely with the central statistics organization in Bagdad, and the Kurdistan Region Statistics organization in Erbil to collect the necessary data, which forms the basis of various reports that you might have seen such as market monitoring, hunger map and data which informs us and other stakeholders, policymakers around foot security issues in Iraq. When we look at Iraq, I think the water scarcity and Lorraine fall in the past season is the second-lowest on record in 40 years in the usage of Centigrade river basin have caused cedar production, constructive production and serial production by about 38% lower than last year’s. Iraq is an import-dependent country, especially when it comes to wheat and vegetable oil, and largely as we know that it depends the on the Ukrainian. I mean, the world’s largest suppliers are Ukraine and Russia. So for these two commodities. So the low crop production means that both are even more crucial this year in Iraq in the face of increased water scarcity, compounded by external shocks. I think a smart agriculture intervention remains critical to ensure the ability of the most vulnerable households to realize and sustain food security. With the rising prices and an average of 11% among the essential items tracked in the WFP, the Cash transfer food basket means that the purchasing power of the family is reduced. We continue to closely monitor the markets and the prices. The rises in which mean that livelihood support and enhanced social protection are even more urgently required than before. When you look at the wage rate. The wage rates are unchanged over the past two years and the Ukraine Russia conflict is already exacerbating the already related food security situation. The economic benefits from the higher crude oil prices will be offset by the increased cost of imports. WFP closely working with the government partners, urban livelihood programs, and the reform of the social protection system. As you highlighted in your introduction, we’re working with the government of Iraq on reforming the public distribution system to help families in need through this time. And by prioritizing the most formidable household. It is important to optimize the limited resources available to ensure that those who are most in need receive the food, that they require when they required it. We are committed to helping the government achieve food security in Iraq, we are also part of a coalition of UNICEF, ILO through the general report of the European Union, where we are contributing to social protection reforms in Iraq both in Kurdistan region and federal Iraq. Also, the school trading program is another WFP flagship initiative in Iraq to help school children with their food needs promoting their nutrition and better learning outcomes. So if I may, I think also when we look at it. Yeah. I handle it for you.

Mahmood Baban: Thank you. I will start with my first question. What’s the role of WFP in helping the Iraq and Kurdistan region in terms of food security in the coming years and nowadays?

Ally-Raza Qureshi:  So, thank you very much. As I highlighted as the world food program, we are already engaged in several programs. We have both the humanitarian programs in Iraq and the development programs as well, so under the humanitarian programs. We are supporting, the internally displaced people. And 70% of the Syrian refugees live in formal camps today. In this key period of transition and recovery following the conflict. We are also building resilience through providing livelihood opportunities and programs for the returners from camps and host communities, and vulnerable people. In addition to the monthly food assistance to vulnerable households, WFP is augmenting the capacity of the national institutions jointly with UNICEF, and ILO  to reform and strengthen the social protection programs in Iraq. So that the government can provide better assistance to the people of Iraq through the protection programs funded by the government of Iraq.

Mahmood Baban: Yeah. What is the level or situation of security food in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region? Is it a threat or challenge for the Iraqi or Kurdistan region?

Ally-Raza Qureshi: Iraq has been going through multiple challenges over the past couple of decades, as you rightly mentioned in your opening statement. WFP’S vulnerability analysis and mapping data revealed that on 31st of March of this year, around two million people in Iraq have an insufficient level of food consumption. So it’s a big technical when you say the insufficient level of food consumption that you know these people are praising family or anything like that, but it is still I would say. When we talk of a hunger-free world and a world with zero hunger having 2 million people with insufficient levels of food consumption is an opportunity in the sense that out of the total population of 40 million, this is a number that can be addressed to the government policies and attentions to reaching towards a zero goal. Also, around 2.5 million people are using consumption-based coping strategies, including relying on less expensive food or borrowing food. The Ukraine crisis has brought a lot of challenges globally, especially for food-importing countries. Russia and Ukraine are a major role in the global food supply, with over 25% coming from these two countries, so they’re making exporters of several food crops including wheat, Corn and feed. The two countries have also known exporters of sunflower oil. And while Iraq doesn’t put quite a lot of which flowers from Turkey, Turkey depends quite significantly on the market from Ukraine and Russia. So the interruption in the food supply from these two countries has contributed to price increases in the global market. Iraq has been the net food importing country that is directly impacted. By the end of March, the prices of vegetable oil increased by 22% in just one month and the year on year increased by 36%. So the average wheat flour price also increased by 8%. And the increasing prices are directly impacting the purchasing power of the poor households.

Mahmood Baban: Yeah, also my third question will be about according to the latest report of the ministry of planning in Iraq, which is just published that the poverty rate in southern governorates would be more than 50%. Also, if come back to Iraq and the north of the Iraq scores, especially Northern governorates will be 10% to 12%. Now, I’d like to ask about Iraq, which part is more threatened by food security nowadays?

Ally-Raza Qureshi: So from our recent monitoring, we saw the highest price increases in Diyala, Kirkuk, Anbar, and Najaf governorates. These were the governorate that registered the highest price increases in March. In some areas, the situation is exacerbated due to panic purchases and holding. In Nineveh, which is home to many returning IDP families and is still not resilient enough to absorb such heavy economic shocks?

Mahmood Baban: Yeh, Also what is a key challenge for Iraq and Kurdistan Region to sustain and secure food security?

Ally-Raza Qureshi: I think the economic crisis, because of covid-19 and more recently, the Ukraine crisis has made it clearer than ever that Iraq should diversify its economy. It cannot rely on the export of oil only; the government of Iraq has formulated a food security committee that is currently working on a national food security strategy for the country. WFP supports the food security committee, especially in evidence generation and contributing to inform decision making, I think if we also look at the climate change, that is another significant threat to food security in Iraq. We’ve already seen the impact of climate change in both Iraq and the Kurdistan region, especially in the irrigated farming areas down in central and southern Iraq. Which are due to a lack of water or the reduced flow of water in the rivers, the cropping area is already reduced by 50%. So climate is significant in addition to the economic crisis that has already been highlighted and the need for diversification of the economy, addressing the climate change issues in Iraq. Especially introducing smart agriculture to reduce the usage of water and to ensure that the better quality of water and better quantity of water is available to farmers, are some of the keys actions required to address the food security challenges, both in the Kurdistan Region and Federal Iraq.

Mahmood Baban: My question will be about what you think about the food security in the Kurdistan region compared to the rest of Iraq? If you compare, the two different entities.

Ally-Raza Qureshi: I think the most important thing to realize is that Kurdistan is hosting the largest share of Syrian refugees and internally displaced population, and the IDP camps are still open in the Kurdistan region. So it is sharing its resources with other vulnerable families coming from other parts of Iraq. Also, we’ve seen that the previous rail fall season, was one of the driest years, and it has resulted in crop failure in the Kurdistan region and other areas. Also, in the Kurdistan region as a result cereal production was 50% lower compared to the previous years. So, it has a direct impact on the farmers, livelihoods and food security in general

Mahmood Baban: Okay. What’s your concern about the latest food security emergency support Bill in the Iraqi parliament that excludes Kurdistan Region, if you’d like to answer? If not, I will ship it?

Ally-Raza Qureshi:  I think the bill is currently being discussed in the parliament. And I don’t think much can be said about it, until being finalized. I hope that the legislators will decide to strengthen food security in Iraq for the entire citizens of Iraq. And to support food security for a better assistant. So, like you, we are also looking at the bill, and like I said. It’s still under discussion, let the politician figure it out.

Mahmood Baban: Ok another question. How do evaluate the Iraqi government and Kurdistan Region Government in terms of working to secure food and control the price of key items and basic items that daily people use it?

Ally-Raza Qureshi: I think in Iraq, the public distribution system for food rations place a very critical role in terms of both Contributing to what are food security outcomes and controlling the price of key items. It confronts many of the challenges that exist and many of the reforms that are required for the public distribution system, it is a very important social safety net that does control the prices of the essential commodities by managing the demand as we can see there are many countries in the world have seen unprecedented uncontrollable price hikes due to the Ukrainian crisis. However, in Iraq, this has not been as dramatic as it has been in many other countries in the region as well, and I think this is because during the first three months of 2022. The public distribution rations are regularly being distributed. Already, three cycles have been completed, and before the cycle for April. I think is also almost completed as well, so that’s ensuring that a sufficient supply of basic commodities is coming into the households, and that reduces the pressure on the household to be buying necessary items. So I think more is needed in terms of reform of the public distribution system. So that it is assisting the most vulnerable Iraqis. And better assistance is provided to those who need it the most. So both the Kurdistan region and the government of Iraq are committed to the reforms and working with us on these reforms.

Mahmood Baban: Yeah, before I will go to my third last question, I will give my colleagues here if they have questions. Yes there is a question, he will be speaking in Kurdish, and I’ll translate it for you. He just ask about the food price and also explain that the area for cultivating crops (wheat) was reduced day by day. He mentioned that the price of one ton of wheat increased by 100 dollars, and he explained how the storage for the food now running out and how to complicated the transformation of the food and the main product, especially for the wheat and the sanction by the US and allies toward Russia. What kind of things does he want to know about the future price for food items, especially wheat, how it can increase, or what it looks like in coming years?

Ally-Raza Qureshi: I think it’s a very difficult question to answer. It is something that concerns all of us, and so is the world food programme. In many countries, we depend on the wheat prices because we are providing humanitarian assistance to many to several people in many countries within this region as well, as in many other countries. So this is something that concerns us very directly because imagine a 50 dollar increase per time in prices in the week means that we need more money to provide the same assistance that we were providing to people, so this is something we track very closely, and this is why, as the world food program. We have highlighted many times, that the impact of the war in Ukraine is not just within that region, and the impact is quite significant. It is quite broad and it is reaching many, many partners of the world because these two countries are providing a significant portion of the world wheat supply and vegetable oil as well. Also, you know, post COVID with the global supply chain issues. The prices of transportation were already rising, the fuel prices were already rising, so even before the conflict in Ukraine, post-COVID era, we were already seeing an upward trend in the prices of commodities and everywhere. This is also having an impact in Iraq. Now on top of that price trend increasing, you have a crisis which is reducing the supply of those commodities in the market, which means nations are going to compete against each other, which will take the prices were up. So I mean, I think the easier answer rather than giving a number, the easier answer I can give is a more predictable answer that I can give is that if the conflict does not solve. The situation around the high prices is going to get worse. So the sooner this conflict is starting to resolve the market started coming back to normal, and the situation of wheat prices should include it. And I think in Iraq, a lot of the price increase is absorbed in the public distribution system, so it is not transferred to all the people in the same way as it is in many other countries in the world. Here when the government is importing and is paying the high prices, it is not transferring those higher prices to the people of Iraq due to the public distribution system. That is keeping the situation. As I said earlier, the situation in Iraq is relatively better than what we see in other countries. But projecting the further increase in the weak prices and oil prices with the continuation of the conflicts.

Mahmood Baban: I’d like to ask about what’s the implication or effect of water shortage, especially on the food security in Iraq?

Ally-Raza Qureshi: I mean, that says we know Iraq is such a beautiful country with the two big rivers, and when you see the civilization around the rivers and a heavy green area around the rivers, that’s a clear testament to the fact that we depend on water for life and for growing our food. And also we share the same water with our animals. Water is critical for food security. Unfortunately, Iraq is among the top five countries, which is most impacted by climate change. The previous rainfall season was the driest in the past 40 years in the Tigris river basin. It impacted cereal production. And rainfall areas and to prioritize the drinking water, only 50 percent of the areas were cultivated compared to the previous year. So, this is eventually reduced cereal this year, low production means low income for the farmers. And also given the current situation with Ukraine, it also means more food has to be imported and has to be imported by the government of Iraq with the higher import bill. Water availability in the southern governor is already impacting the productivity in the area. And has triggered migration from the rural to urban areas, and the quality of the water in the south is already getting worse, becoming saltier, which is again affecting the soil. This needs to be seriously considered, and it is essential to have water-efficient and climate-smart agriculture in Iran, and in many areas in Iraq, even today flattering irrigation method is used. Which causes both waste of water, but also flood irrigation with the line water causes more damage to the soil, so the investment is needed in introducing smart, modern mechanized agricultural farming in Iraq.

Mahmood Baban: Thank you, another question, is how WFP can support or guide the Iraqi government and coastal region to scare an adult security fee in the coming years. How do you guide or support both governments?

Ally-Raza Qureshi: I think it’s very good to see that the government of Iraq has a food security committee and is developing a national food security strategy as well. I think we are part of this committee, so we are advising, and we are providing our valuable experience from around the world to this committee as well. I think one of the most important, as already noted by the government, it’s not something that we are saying. It’s something which is documented in the right paper of the government of Iraq that the diversification of the economy is essential. There is also a need to reduce the dependence on oil exports. Agriculture is the second-largest contributor to the country’s GDP and provides livelihoods in rural areas. After I think the employment of government sector, the agricultural sector employees the second or the third-largest number of people, So it is an important livelihood, but if the environment is not conducive for rural livelihoods, then it is it will trigger further internal displacement. So as WFP, we are working on rural development programs to conserve and revive water sources for small villages and farmers and build people’s resilience with training and skills development alongside working on both local and national level support. And we help all across Kirkuk to Basra and we help decision-makers have the tools and skills they need to make the best to provide the best support to the vulnerable communities. We are supporting the government and the Federal Iraq and KRG around decision making because when you come when we talk about securing food security for the people of Iraq, the most important thing that is needed is evidence and data to work with the CSO, and Kurdistan Region statistics office, we are ensuring that sufficient food security data is available and is shared with the decision-maker So that the right policies and programs can be implemented to ensure food security for all. Lastly, we need to invest in the youth. Iraq has 60% of the population below the age of twenty and with such a huge number of young. Iraq is in that face, which we call the population dividend. If this energy is harnessed rightly, we have a prosperous Iraq ahead of us, and if this energy is not harnessed rightly meaning we do not create livelihood opportunities, skills development and education programs for the youth, then it can cause a lack of growth for Iraq and even worse outcomes. So we are also focused on youth and privatizing along with the climate adaptation and the climate mitigation programming, which we are also recommending for the KRG and for the federal government to focus on these areas as well.

Mahmood Baban: Before I will go to my final questions, and at that time, I’ll allow my director. it might be he has questions. Ryan Rojhelati Thank you so much. I have a question that is related to politics. If you. What do you think about militia groups’ control of Iraqi borders? You know they have their checkpoints and they have been involved in smuggling from other countries to Iraq, how it can affect Iraqi Food Security. It’s a big problem. Do you think it’s a big problem for Iraqi food security or not?

Ally-Raza Qureshi: I think, I mean having an informal trade mechanism or smuggling is never conducive, especially we have seen in several areas with the dumping of commodities from other countries that have affected the livelihood opportunities of the smallholder farmers. If it’s going to work very hard, especially with the harsh conditions in Iraq. With already water adding pressure on those poor farmers and the cost of investment that they have to bear and when it produces. And their production is not competitive to what is coming from other parts of different regions directly affect their food security, and directly impact their incentive of them to produce anymore. I have been to many different regions in Iraq. I’ve met many of those smallholder farmers, and I’ve also heard their stories where somebody produced tomatoes, but then when he took their tomatoes into the market, his tomatoes could not compete with the prices in terms of the prices with the imported tomatoes, what is he going to do, he lost his income. He lost his investment, and will he want to invest again in this line? Likewise, I’ve heard the story of a cucumber growth, so I fully I mean, to me, this is not political. This is something that, as I said, has a clear impact on the food security of the people. And. Also, in terms of the rule of law, it has its impact. I do hope that this situation is contained and controlled.

Mahmood Baban: yes, it seems my colleague has a question, I will translate it. he ask a question about the budget that WFP needs to support Iraqi? Also, he just mentioned the latest report by the ministry of planning in Iraq that the poverty rate is between 20 to 22 percent in Iraq? How much does WFP need a budget to the poverty rate does not increase?

Ally-Raza Qureshi: Okay, now thank you very much. That’s an excellent question. And definitely, I think when we look at some of the government’s policies, you have the national poverty reduction strategy, you have several social protection programs that are in place. The social safety net of the ministry of labour and social affairs, so the number of several programs exist already today that are aimed at poverty reductions, but also ensuring that the most vulnerable are supported through difficult times.  WFP, as I mentioned earlier. We are looking together with our other sister agencies at the entire landscape of social protection programs in Iraq. Working with the World Bank UNICEF, ILO with the support from the European Union, we are looking at how those programs need to evolve. Be informed by better evidence through data that is collected by the government, which informs the policymakers on the adjustments on the types of programs that are needed, and how these social transfers of social protection programs become more strong responsive, so for example, during the time of COVID. how could existing programs have better targeted the most vulnerable people rather than having errors of inclusion, meaning that you know that the right people were not assisted, and those that needed the most perhaps excluded from the program, so how to ensure that, that doesn’t happen again, that’s one of the core areas for us. But also, another important area as I mentioned it. when we look at the power of statistics in the south in Maysan, in Muthanna, in Tikirt, were there 55, 54 and around 46 percent are very poverty rates. When we look at Iraq as a middle country having those kinds of poverty rates is something that requires urgent action and broader programs that can ensure that those people are lifted out of the poverty line. Now when we look at it again, the South, you have a significant impact of the climate change on the farmers there, so we looking at programs that help those farmers to adapt to climate change, so you know if there is a reality that certain elements of climate change are not reversible, then how do we adapt to that using different types of seats, using different cropping times using different varieties. So all of that is part of efforts to do to ensure that the rural communities can support their own food needs, but also earn income and not fall further into the type of poverty, likewise, as I mentioned. The unemployment rate amongst the youth is the highest. It is over 20% unemployment rate when we look at the youth; unfortunately, the trend in the past has always been that when a young person graduates and finishes university, they always wanted government jobs. How do we do that trend? How do we reverse that trend because the government jobs have already reached a saturation point, and again, it’s documented in the economic reform, white paper that you know the government cannot carry the burden of government jobs anymore? So how do we ensure that the youth are provided with skills that marketable business that can enable them to use the digital marketplace so that they can either without in the digital marketplace, you have no borders? You have no borders restriction, you do not need an immigration visa to go and work in another country you can visit Iraq and work for another country, how do we impart those skills to the youth in Iraq, how do we help the uneducated or are those were less educated and haven’t completed the formal education. How do we get them better vocational skills training? And also encourage them to turn into entrepreneurs, and open small-medium enterprises, which I see in Kurdistan. And I’m always quite happy when I see the upcoming startup ecosystem in Kurdistan is so strong and active, and that is what is needed as well, because if a startup is going to start very small. Eventually, it will employ 10 people in maybe a hundred in future. So that kind of an ecosystem needs to be supported through the government policies and actions as well, creating the necessary seat funds and investment funds for these small and medium enterprises to start-up and having a proper skills training centre, incubation centres where that are also supported. So that’s a program that we are also working on, and we are working with the government on many of these programs. But with the situation in the world, unfortunately, we have continuously been challenged by funding. As you know, we are a voluntarily funded organization. So we are funded by donors with the current situation around the world. The office’s significant funding crunches at the moment in Iraq, we need over 40 million dollars to continue our operations in Iraq. This year, unfortunately, the current outlook is not that good for us. But we are optimistic, and we are engaging with the government of Iraq as well to see how they can support us during these difficult times.

Mahmood Baban: Thank you very much, despite that during your speech, you may just answer it, but I’d like to finish with that one, what is your suggestion for the Iraqi government and Kurdistan region to help vulnerable people? As you know that nowadays they face food shortages, but secure that the Iraqi government distribution two times a month a food package that enough or what’s your suggestion for that?

Ally-Raza Qureshi: I think the public distribution system, as I said, is an important program. It should be continued, it should be reformed so that it provides better assistance for those who are the poorest. So the ones that are below the poverty line or near the poverty line or looking at other factors, get a better package. Today, irrespective of the income, everybody gets the same package. And now for those that are at a higher level of economic strength, it may not be an important package or a food password that is being provided, and they can augment it easily with other income that they have. But for the poorest that rely solely on this public distribution system as the package, it may not be enough, and for them, it also may not be possible to secure assistance or to secure additional full needs through their income because their income may not be sufficient, so reforming the program. So that it provides better assistance for the most vulnerable is the need of our program. First and foremost. I think the national food security strategy finalization and adoption are the keys because several actions are linked with that. Also, I think taking climate change seriously. Investing in climate mitigation and climate adaptation programs, especially for climate fund agriculture, I think are the most critical investments, for me, they’re not expenditures. There are investments because these investments pay off when you invest in climate-related programs, they pay off both in terms of financially, but also in terms of a better life for the citizens over the long run. I mean, today. We are seeing frequent sand storms coming in many of the Iraqi cities. And that’s directly again linked to climate change, and the fact that many of the eight palm trees that used to cover these areas are gone, so now imagine the quality of life, the quality of air, we are breathing is going to deteriorate, so I think if we invest in climate change programs that will help in the future as well as

Mahmood Baban: Thank you very much, Mr Ali. Thank you for your time, we will be glad to have you here in Erbil in our Research Centre. Thank you again.

Ally-Raza Qureshi: Thank you for having me and it is pleasure. It was indeed a pleasure. The pleasure with all mine. Thank you.


April - 2022
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