An appeal to rebuild Iraq’s wrecked seed sector has been launched by the United Nations’ Food & Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

Prior to the US/UK-led invasion, the country had a stable public-sector controlled seed industry guaranteeing quality seed to Iraqi food producers. However, since the fall of Saddam Hussein, research and seed production facilities have greatly deteriorated.

“Agricultural research centres were devastated and most of the equipment and machinery, including seed processing facilities and seed stocks, were looted or damaged,” said the FAO. It said Iraq needed a system providing certified high-quality seeds of improved varieties, because farmers now use their own low-quality seeds, “threatening the country’s food security”.