Last week, we welcomed a delegation from the Sulaymaniyah Governorate in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. Sulaymaniyah economically depends on agricultural activities and has a dry climate. As a result of global warming, the government and farmers have to think about saving water and preparing the region for an even dryer future. Our guests work at the Ministry of Agriculture and are in the perfect position to decide on the future of agricultural activities in Sulaymaniyah.
On the other hand, Wageningen University & Research (WUR) aims to explore the potential of nature to improve the quality of life. WUR specializes in food, natural resources, living environment, society and well-being, and is therefore the perfect partner to transfer knowledge about agricultural innovations.
We organized an exchange visit in cooperation with these partners to encourage knowledge transfer about agricultural innovations. Through a series of online meetings between WUR staff members and the delegation before the exchange visit, WUR created a two-week course to address the issues faced by farmers in Sulaymaniyah.
On the 13th of July, we were invited to join the delegation and WUR staff members on an excursion to WUR’s business unit Greenhouse Horticulture in Bleiswijk, and ‘the farm of the future’ in Lelystad.
We started the day with an insightful presentation about soilless farming and circular horticulture at the Business Unit Greenhouse Horticulture. How can you efficiently grow tomatoes without soil? And how can one save and reuse water? Tips and tricks were shared on how to produce a kilo of tomatoes by only using 10 liters of water; very relevant knowledge when one is dealing with drought. After the presentation, we had a look at the water saving systems and soilless plants in the greenhouses.
In the afternoon, we went to the Farm of the Future to learn about their experiments with agroforestry and strip-cropping. The aim of these experiments is to restore and make use of biodiversity, maintain and improve soil quality, minimize the use of chemicals, and mitigate the risks of extreme weather events. What trees and crop-rotation can do! We were very impressed.
WUR and the delegation from Sulaymaniyah do not stop sharing knowledge once the exchange visit has come to an end. On the contrary; the delegation will work on a pilot project afterwards to implement the newly gained knowledge from the Netherlands. We look forward to seeing the results!