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For the first time in two decades, Iran and Iraq have agreed to cooperate in various fields of agriculture and animal health.

The plans were announced last week (4 September) when Iraq's minister of agriculture, Yuarib Nadhim al-Abudi, visited Iran.

It is the latest in a series of moves to improve ties severed during the eight year war, from 1980 to 1988.

The two countries will exchange expertise and personnel for research in a variety of agricultural and veterinary fields.

Iranian agricultural specialists will train Iraqi researchers in methods for breeding better crop varieties and more productive livestock, and in developing and producing animal vaccines.


The Iranian minister of agriculture also said his country was ready to help Iraq implement desert science projects, offering its engineering and consulting services in dam, silo and fishing platform construction to Iraq.

In addition, the two countries will cooperate to organise management campaigns for the control of agricultural pests.

A committee will meet twice a year to ensure that the plans are implemented.

Mohsen Ashourian, a researcher at Isfahan University in Iran welcomed the plans.

He told SciDev.Net that the two countries could also establish a joint group for bio-security planning to help deal with unpredictable agricultural diseases, and work on developing and adopting international standards for plant and animal health.

Fredun Hojabri, founding president of the Sharif University of Technology Association — a global organisation for the alumni of Iran's top scientific university — says dwindling agricultural resources and a growing world population make scientific cooperation in the food sector of "utmost importance".