Cablegate: In Salah-Ad-Din, Building Provincial Capacity

DE RUEHGB #0150/01 0211417
R 211417Z JAN 10 ZDK



E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (U) This is a Salah Ad Din Provincial Reconstruction Team
(PRT) message.

2. (U) SUMMARY. Salah ad Din PRT is fostering economic
development in the province through banking and agriculture
initiatives. The PRT supports the expansion of private
banking by facilitating the opening of Al-Warka Bank branches
on U.S. military bases in Balad and Tikrit. In addition, PRT
agriculture initiatives include the introduction of new
technology including hoop houses and no-till drills. Local
farmers are increasingly embracing this new technology as a
direct result of engagement by the agriculture experts on the
PRT's economics team. END SUMMARY.

3. (U) The PRT's economics team has been promoting and
supporting a number of significant efforts throughout the
province in the areas of banking and agriculture. These
activities are marking a distinct turn away from merely
promoting discrete projects to establishing and building
Iraqi capacity in key areas of a largely broken economy.
These initiatives have the potential to be key steps toward
mending economic and agricultural processes that will help
establish a base to begin growing a provincial economy.


4. (U) A branch office of Al-Warka Bank recently opened at
Joint Base Balad/Anaconda Air Force Base in Balad and a
second is set to open in the next two months at Contingency
Operating Base (COB) Speicher, where the PRT is housed, near
Tikrit. Both branches are based in the Iraqi-Based
Industrial Zones (IBIZ), areas at each base designated for
Iraqi enterprises to service the needs of the base and
surrounding areas. Al-Warka Bank will provide electronic
fund transfers to base workers and credit card authorizations
via MasterCard Services--a first for Iraq.

5. (U) The new bank branches resulted from an idea proposed
by the PRT Economic Advisor to bank officials, who recognized
the opportunities of the improved security environment and
were eager to expand their operations. The proposal also
dovetailed with the IBIZ mission of making military
facilities an economic asset for their surrounding
communities. Setting up the new branches presented
considerable logistical and administrative challenges,
overcome by a committed team effort among the PRT, the bank,
the IBIZ and the military administrators of the two bases.

6. (U) The mission of the IBIZ will continue beyond the U.S.
military drawdown. Following the reduction of U.S. Forces in
Iraq (USF-I) these two large bases will revert to Iraqi
control and continue to operate, with large numbers of Iraqi
military and support personnel. They will continue to be a
major source of demand for services provided by IBIZ
enterprises. Ensuring the sustainability of the IBIZ is an
important part of the discussions between USF-I and incoming
Iraqi commanders, who recognize the value of these businesses.


7. (U) Agricultural "hoop houses", also known as "high
tunnels" are low-cost, easily transportable greenhouses that
provide off-season crops of fruits and vegetables and help to
address the wide seasonal variation in food supply. They
were introduced to Salah ad Din through a joint initiative
between the PRT and the provincial Agricultural Task Force
(ATF), a committee consisting of provincial officials,
farmers' union members and engineers, after the ATF attended
a PRT-sponsored hoop house demonstration in Jordan.
Following their introduction in the province, hoop houses
have become widely popular among farmers. There are now over
Qhave become widely popular among farmers. There are now over
a thousand hoop houses in Salah ad Din, fewer than two
hundred of which were funded by coalition forces. This high
growth rate has been aided in part by the commercial
manufacturing of the hoops (or "ribs") at a metal fabrication
facility in Samarra. Iraqis have also expressed strong
interest to the PRT Econ Team in opening a local business to
fabricate the plastic cover for these structures. Home-grown
spinoffs of these formerly imported materials are a strong
indication that Iraqis have adopted this technology as their
own for long-term use in an expanding agriculture economy.

8. (U) A call-in radio talk show on January 2 in Tikrit
featured a program discussing the new no-till drills being
piloted in the Province. The speaker, the Director General
of Agriculture Extension Services in Salah ad Din, identified
the PRT as the prime mover in bringing this technique to the
Province. Several callers expressed satisfaction with their
initial results using the drills and gratitude for the chance
to try the new technology. The PRT Agriculture Team is

BAGHDAD 00000150 002 OF 002

working to obtain more quantitative results from this first
season of use in planting winter grain crops. With funding
support from CERP, the PRT and ATF introduced no-till drills
to improve planting efficiency and mitigate soil loss from
erosion, and the University of Tikrit's College of
Agriculture recently hosted a demonstration of the new
machines for district-level agriculture representatives.
Training partnerships with the University increasingly are an
essential part of the PRT and ATF's outreach strategy.

9. (U) COMMENT. PRT successes in developing Salah ad Din's
banking and agricultural sectors are making progress in
building sustainable capacity. Modern payment methods and
efficient agriculture are each, in their own way, essential
building blocks for a modern economy. END COMMENT.

© Scoop Media

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