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Cablegate: Agriculture Project and Korean Vocational Training

DE RUEHGB #3485/01 2610217
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E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (U) Summary. MNF-I's Civil-Military Directorate and
Econoff traveled to Erbil August 29 - 30, to visit a
vocational instruction site operated by Korean coalition
forces, and a honey production project supported by USAID.
The Korean project conducted training in a wide range of
skills. Classes were well attended, and the training was
thorough. Honey production is the number one source of
revenue for the village visited. The USG group also received
a briefing from the country director for the USAID contractor
Development Alternatives, Inc. on the status of current
projects. End Summary.

2. (U) Staff from MNF-I's Civil-Military Operations (CMO)
Directorate and EconOff traveled to Erbil August 29-30 to
visit a vocational training center operated by Korean
Coalition Forces, and a honey production agricultural
project. The group also met with the country director of
USAID's contractor Development Alternatives, Inc. (DAI).

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Korean-run Training Center
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3. (U) The vocational training center is located in the
Korean military facility, Zaytun, and conducts classes in
basic computer operation skills, repair and maintenance of
automobiles, diesel motors, and air conditioners, as well as
commercial baking and heavy machine operation. The classes
are eight weeks in length, and classes observed by the group
were well attended. The Korean military officers stated that
the amount paid out of the Korean defense budget was
approximately 2M USD. (Comment: The amount does not include
the donated equipment such as cars, repair equipment, air
conditioners, and excavators from well-known Korean companies
such as Hyundai, Daewoo, and Samsung. End Comment.) The
Zaytun vocational education center is the model that MNF-I is
using to create the National Vocational Training and
Employment program. This program will build 11 facilities
across Iraq and is currently in the funding stage.

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4. (U) The group later in the day met with the country
director for DAI at its offices in Erbil for an update on
various USG supported projects. DAI's current contract is at
its end, so its operations in Iraq are winding down. CMO
asked if it was possible to obtain wheat designed to grow in
the saline soil found in Iraq. DAI said that there are
varieties from Syria that would work very well in Iraq's
soil. Econoff asked about GOI price supports for wheat and
their effect on local production and the Iraqi market. DAI
said that although GOI guaranteed prices per metric ton for
wheat are higher than world prices, the difference is almost
entirely negated by the costs of importing the world-priced
wheat such as high transportation and demurrage costs that,
when added to world price for imported wheat, brought it more
or less in line with GOI's guaranteed price.

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Show Me the Honey
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5. (U) On August 30, the group traveled to the village of
Shaqlawa, about an hour's drive north of Erbil, to meet with
local honey producers. The farmers gave a tour of their
small facility including an inspection of the hives, and a
sample of the raw product. The DAI staff brought along
equipment that allows farmers to spin honey out of the
collection boards. The machine significantly reduces the
labor and time needed to harvest the honey. The farmers and
the DAI's staff pointed out that about 300 metric tons of
honey is produced per year in Iraq, and another 300 to 400
metric tons is imported, so there is significant room for
expanded development of honey production in Iraq. The
farmers indicated that they would benefit from more training
centers on bee keeping and additional equipment. Since it
does not take much effort to keep the bees according to DAI's
staff, bee-keeping is a good part-time job for many in the
area. One hive provides about 250 USD per year in income, a
significant sum in Iraq where average yearly farm income is
estimated to be 1500 USD. The farm visited by the USG group
had approximately 100 hives, so its yearly income, according
to this estimate, is about 25,000 USD. Honey is the number
one income producer for the village, followed by pomegranate
production in which the bees are used as pollinators.

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6. (SBU) Comment. The projects visited by the USG group
presented a very good image of what can be achieved through

BAGHDAD 00003485 002 OF 002

international engagement and the hard work of Iraqi partners;
although this region of Iraq is quite secure compared to
other regions. During an informal visit to Erbil, the city
appeared to be bustling with plenty of goods in the local
market. Large construction projects were much in evidence
with numerous large cranes at work in the city. This
admittedly anecdotal evidence does demonstrate the
significant economic potential in Iraq, once a reasonable
level of security is established. End Comment.

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