Critical Analysis of Iraqis Food related Initiatives and Recommendations


Table of Contents
1.0 Background 2
2.0 Aims and Objectives 3
3.0 Methodology 3
Table 1.0: Search Terms and Results 3
4.0. LO1: Evaluating the Key Challenges 4
Figure 1.0: PDS spending on different consumption quintiles. 6
Table 2.0: Imports for Food Commodities in Iraq Between 2005 and 2013 (In 1000 US$). 7
5.0 LO2: Factors Influencing Policies 7
5.1 Political Factors 7
5.2 Economic Factors 8
5.3 Social Factors 8
5.4 Cultural Factors 9
Table 3.0. Commodity Balances in 2015 9
5.5 Ethical Factors 10
6.0 LO3: Recommendations 10
7.0 Conclusion 11
8.0 References 13

1.0 Background
Food insecurity has been one of the issues facing Iraq over the last three decades. The commencement of the issue as a keyhitch in the country can be traced to the 1990 sanctions by the United Nations after the Iraqi invades Kuwait (Koc, Jernigan & Das, 2007). In addition to restrictions from food importation, insecurity hindered the exportation of oil, which has been Iraqi’s most valuable resource (Although the situation improved from the onset of the 20th century, the return of conflicts caused by Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) from 2013 led to a significant increase in food insecurity in the country (RFSAN, 2016). Critical Analysis of Iraqis Food related Initiatives and Recommendations By then, there were over 2.1 internally displaced people, a situation that had been caused by previous conflicts (WFP, 2016). The new wave of conflicts led to the dislocation of an estimate 6 million Iraqis by 2017 (World Bank Group, 2018). The conflicts also disrupted agricultural activities and the flow of humanitarian aid in the country. Thus, the problem aggravated the food insecurity situation in the country. At the same time, the conflicts limited the ability of the Iraqi government from developing and implementing sustainable initiatives to enhance food security. However, the food security situation has been improving since 2017 due to an increase in the supply of humanitarian aid, improvement in agricultural activities and reduction of the number of displaced persons. Despite this, the food insecurity persists and has increased amidst the spread of Covid-19 due to impacts such as the reduction of incomes and limitations in the flow of food aid (OCHA, 2020). By March 2020, there were also around 247,400 refugees from Syria living Iraq, most of whom required humanitarian assistance, including food aid (USAID, 2020)Critical Analysis of Iraqis Food related Initiatives and Recommendations.



2.0 Aims and Objectives
The main drive of this report is to critically assess the initiatives adopted or set to be implemented by the government of Iraq to dispense the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) related to food insecurity. The United Nations published a list of 17 goals that countries should strive to meet by 2030. SDG 2 is the main goal that relates to food insecurity, which focuses on ending hunger, promoting sustainable agriculture, improving nutrition and achieving food security (United Nations, 2016).The first objective of the report is to critically evaluate the challenges experienced in Iraq in food consumption and production and related ecological efficiency. The second objective is to identify and appraise the political, economic, ethical, cultural and social aspects that impact the policies adopted in Iraq to address the challenges identified and to make the food system robust in the future. The third objective is to determine to give recommendations about the innovations and changes that will help to ensure food security and sustainability are achieved in IraqCritical Analysis of Iraqis Food related Initiatives and Recommendations.
3.0 Methodology
The information contained in the report was searched from various databases and online websites. A significant proportion of the sources was derived from the United Nations resources, and the government of Iraq reports from Google scholar search engine. Journal articles and related scholarly sources were derived from databases such as SAGE Journals, Springer and ResearchGate. Relevant information was derived through searching key terms. The table below contains a summary of the search terms used and the results derived from different databases Critical Analysis of Iraqis Food related Initiatives and Recommendations.
Table 1.0: Search Terms and Results
Search Terms Google Scholar SAGE Journals Springer
Iraq Food Security 41,001 4,863 20,669
United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 2,312,370 46,347 71,754
Iraq government food security initiatives 154,228 2,767 32,531
Iraq government agricultural productivity improvement initiatives 31,249 1,082 25,406
Iraq government nutritional improvement efforts 25,135 664 24,337
Iraq government agricultural income support initiatives 55,697 1,457 35,396
Iraq government food market, pricing and trade policies 38,489 1,776 198,495

4.0. LO1: Evaluating the Key Challenges
The first key challenge relating to food consumption experienced in Iraq is hunger. The SDG 2 stipulates that governments should end hunger through ensuring that all vulnerable people, including the poor, children, disabled, and the sick have sufficient and safe food throughout the year by 2030 (Rockström& Sukhdev, 2016).The first challenge that has been contributing to hunger in Iraq is the presence of conflicts, leading to displacement of hundreds of thousands of people. The problem with the crises is that they can distort effective applicability of the economic theory of demand and supply. In Iraq, crisis, affect the production and importation of food especially by the private sector. Also, the crises limit the ability of humanitarian agencies to provide food support to the areas mostly affected(WFP, 2018, p. 31).Critical Analysis of Iraqis Food related Initiatives and RecommendationsConsequently, the amount of food supplied to the people of Iraq has been lower than the demand.
The second significant challenge is that the government of Iraq has been adopting command market rather than a free market system. The government has been doing so through acting as the main importer and supplier of food, hence limiting the involvement of the private sectors(WFP, 2018, p. 32). The problem with the command approach is that the government acts as a monopoly through supplying the imported foods at discounted prices. Thus, the private sectors are unable to complete. The approach brings the challenge since the government is unable to reach all people that need the food (WFP, 2018, p. 32). In addition to discouraging business by the private sector, the government discourages food production locally due to the importation and supply at low prices. Thus, the government approach fails to meet the requirement by SDG 2, to take initiatives to ensure that commodity markets, including imports and exports, are properly functioning. Also, governments should make efforts to ensure that prices for commodities are stable (United Nations, 2016)Critical Analysis of Iraqis Food related Initiatives and Recommendations.
The second challenge is the ineffective strategies undertaken taken by the government of Iraq. For more than two decades, the government of Iraq has been using a PDS system to distribute to the people who are vulnerable to hunger within the country. The Ministry of Trade avails necessary products such as cooking oil, kerosene, wheat, rice, sugar and flour to the poor at subsidized prices. (Alderman, Gentilini & Yemtsov, 2018). Figure 1.0 below shows PDS spending on different consumption quintiles in rural and urban areas in 2012.
Figure 1.0: PDS spending on different consumption quintiles.

Source: WFP (2018, p. 47).
The problem with the PDS system is that it has been discouraging food production since the main types of food are available at low prices that the farmers are unable to compete with. Ultimately, low level of food production is a majorcontributing factor to food insecurity(Doelman et al., 2019, p. 93). In doing so, the government of Iraq has been failing to adhere to one of the goals of SDG 2, which is to establish initiatives that would help to double agricultural productivity by 2030 from the level it was in 2016(Hendriks, 2018).
The command market system and PDS adopted by the government of Iraq have a greater adverse impact since thy have been limiting increase in employment especially in agricultural sector in the country. The failure to create employment opportunities limits the ability to solve hunger, malnutrition and other consumption problems(WFP, 2018, p. 38). Thus, the approaches by the government limit the ability to meet another goal of SDG 2, which is to address hunger and food insecurity through establishing strategies for increasing employment rates, including in the agricultural sector (Hendriks, 2018).Another challenge in the consumption of food is addressing or preventing malnutrition in Iraq. As shown on the table below, the government of Iraq has been importing many of the foods that are needed to provide balanced diet.
Table 2.0: Imports for Food Commodities in Iraq Between 2005 and 2013 (In 1000 US$) Critical Analysis of Iraqis Food related Initiatives and Recommendations.

Source: WFP, 2018 (p. 38).
The problem with the importation approach is that cases of malnutrition will increase whenever the flow of imports is affected. Thus, there should no significant reliance on imports for foods that can be produced locally, as suggested by Lang (2017, p. 5). The issue has been contributing to food insecurity in many parts of the world (FAO, 2019). The problem is compounded by the discouragement of production of varieties of agricultural products by the farmers.
5.0 LO2: Factors Influencing Policies
5.1 Political Factors
Some of the policies with impact on food sustainability in Iraq are influenced by political factors. For instance, one of the government political agenda has been to enhance employment rate as a long-term strategy of increasing incomes and reducing hunger in the country. 1Consequently, the government of Iraq has established various policies meant to support employment among the youth, women and other groups in the society. Among the policies established are the National Employment Policy 2010–2014, National Youth Strategy 2013–2020 and the National Development Plan 2018–2022(PSR, 2017). Critical Analysis of Iraqis Food related Initiatives and RecommendationsDespite this, government involvement in importation of food products and use of PDS system have suppressed employment especially in the agricultural sector(Woertz, 2017, p. 513). The reliance on outdated curricula and high illiteracy rates in Iraq continue to contribute to high level of unemployment in the country (UNESCO Institute of Statistics, 2020).
5.2 Economic Factors
Economic factors have been influencing the policies adopted by the government of Iraq to tackle the issue of food insecurity in the country. For instance, an increase in the number of people struggling to earn income and living below the poverty line influenced the government to establish theSocial Protection Law No. 11 in 2014. law supports the establishment of programs meant to improve the income among the poor, to provide them with the essential amenities at affordable costs and to provide financial assistance to the elderly, the disabled, the sick and the unemployed people (International Labor Organizations, 2014). However, the effectiveness of the social safety net programs operating under the law is that they have expressed the lack of proper setting of priorities, accountability, good leadership and monitoring (WFP, 2018, p. 39).Critical Analysis of Iraqis Food related Initiatives and Recommendations
5.3 Social Factors
The government of Iraq is also stimulated by social factors to make policies meant to improve food sustainability in the country. A good example is the response to the cases of wasting and stunting among children in the country. To improve the health of the Iraqis and prevent such instances of malnutrition, the government developed a Nutrition Strategy in 2012. The policy lays strategies to be applied until 2021 2021 (WHO, 2012).The strategy involves objectives and efforts to provide education about nutrition at various educational levels, to prevent stunting and to waste among children, to minimize obesity rates, to avail safe food different population groups and to create effective surveillance, evaluation and monitoring plans (WFP, 2018, p. 32). The government also established wheat fortification legislation in 2015 meant to add essential nutrients to the resulting products and hence, reduce malnutrition. However, the efforts have limited impacts due to the failure by the government to support cultivation of all food products needed in the diet, leading to overreliance on importation. Also, the lack of sufficient funding to schools leads to the supply of foods to students without giving attention to balanced diet (WFP, 2018, p. 45). As Ruel (2018, p. 131) explains, the lack of adequate income by a significant proportion of the population is also a major hindrance to achieving the goalsCritical Analysis of Iraqis Food related Initiatives and Recommendations.
5.4 Cultural Factors
A remarkable aspect of Iraq government policies and initiatives focusing on food security is that they are significantly influenced by culture. The government has developed a culture of importation as a way of addressing the discrepancy between food supply and demand in the country(FAO, 2018). Table 3.0 below shows commodity balances, including imports and exports in 2015 in Iraq.
Table 3.0. Commodity Balances in 2015

Source: WFP, 2018 (p. 32).
The problem with the culture of importation is that it has limited the government’s focus on supporting farming to increase productivity locally. As explained earlier, the importation has been adversely affecting the agricultural sector in the country.
5.5 Ethical Factors
The government of Iraq is also influenced by ethical factors in its establishment of policies addressing food insecurity. Due to its ethical responsibility of protecting Iraqis from devastating impacts of hunger, for instance, the government established the PDS. The decision to import food to fill the shortage gap is also a fulfillment of ethical responsibility (WFP, 2018, p. 38). However, the problem with such policies and strategies is that they only provide short-term and unsustainable to the issue of food insecurity. Thus, they are ineffective in the long-term.
6.0 LO3: Recommendations
Based on the analysis, the government of Iraq needs to make significant improvements and innovations to enhance sustainability of food security and meet the SDG goals. First, the government should change its current strategy of addressing hunger by replacing the PDS system with support for food production and distribution to the farmers. As noted in the analysis, the PDS system has been the upper limit to improvement in agricultural production. The subsidies used on the PDS system should be used to enhance access and reduce prices for farming inputs. Despite this, the government should maintain a strategy for supporting the most vulnerable groups to hunger as it streamlines the agricultural sector. The government can provide support through the social safety net programs. However, there is a need to address the existing issues such as the lack of proper setting of priorities, accountability, good leadership and monitoring.
To improve initiatives related to nutrition, the government of Iraq should ensure that the relevant information is incorporated at every level of education. Second, the government should establish a policy requiring a sufficient supply of foods with all the necessary nutrients to students in schools, as suggested by Marks et al. (2018, p. 358). Last, the government should establish a policy supporting the farmers to cultivate and supply different types of foods with the essential nutrients. The NDPs can be very effective in supporting improvement in agricultural production to meet the SGD 2 goals. However, the government should provide subsidies to inputs and other necessary support to the farmers and eliminate the PDS system, which is the major limitation to agricultural production Critical Analysis of Iraqis Food related Initiatives and Recommendations.
By eliminating the PDS, the government will support employment in the agricultural sector. The strategy will encourage farming and hence, improve employment in the agricultural sector. The government should also replace the outdated curricula in educational institutions with new ones and encourage learning by all children to improve literacy rates. Last, elimination of the PDS will help to provide an opportunity for the farmers and other players in the private sector to engage in competitive market activities and avail food products throughout the country. In addition to removing the system, the government should stop monopolizing the importation of food products. Stability in prices will be achieved by allowing free trade and involvement by the private sector.
7.0 Conclusion
Overall, Iraq has been experiencing episodes of the high level of food insecurity and experiences of hunger over the last decades occasioned mainly by conflicts. However, the government of Iraq developed plans and initiatives to address the situation and meet the SDGs after the end of the latest conflicts in 2017. SDG 2 requires governments to adopt initiatives and make efforts to ensure that by 2030, the population will be food secure, end hunger, promote sustainable agriculture and improve nutrition. Although the government has established various initiatives to meet SDG 2, the analysis indicates the need for significant changes and improvements. The current PDS system that is meant to address hunger by the government has major adverse impacts, and it does not provide a long-term solution. The government should maintain support to the vulnerable through social safety net programs. Thus, it should be replaced with better strategies. The government needs to improve in educating people about nutrition and supporting agricultural production of the necessary products. As explained, elimination of the PDS will help to boost agricultural productivity, increase employment from agriculture and solve market issues that discourage the farmers and other members of the private sector. The government eliminates monopoly in the commodity market and focus on supporting farmers Critical Analysis of Iraqis Food related Initiatives and Recommendations.

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