'We provided not only the equipment itself but also the necessary training in their use, as well as meetings with veterinarians. Each farmer took part in a relevant workshop, where he, under the guidance of a specialist, learned how to use milking machines and clippers properly’ – says PCPM representative in Iraq, Jaroslaw Zarychta.
The local authorities of Shekhan district (northern Iraq) selected 80 farms to receive equipment from the PCPM to increase the efficiency of sheep and goat farming: milking machines and shearers. The selection of the farms was made by local authorities, but an important consideration was the number of animals in the herd – they were to be 'medium-sized’ farms, with herds of more than 100 head.
'We had some concerns at first because we had never used such equipment before. Some people said that the sheep would give less milk. This turned out not to be true. We had lessons beforehand on how to use milking machines and shearers properly so as not to harm the animal.” – says Jafar Ibrahim Ismail, a villager in Shekhan district, a beneficiary of the program.
The PCPM donated 80 milking and shearing kits for farm animals to farmers in the Shekhan district, while one kit went to the local agricultural office. The contract with the farmers stipulates that they have no right to transfer or dispose of the donated machines for the first year. The selection of the machinery supplier was based on a tender. The value of the total equipment purchased is $99,630.
'The criteria in the tender were quite exorbitant, we wanted quality equipment. As the PCPM, we want federal Iraq and Iraqi Kurdistan to equal European quality, because only this can translate into the steady, long-term development of these regions, which is the guiding objective of the PCPM’s activities and MASAR’s premise. We focus on the long-term effects of our activities, which is expressed, among other things, in our attention to the quality of materials, components, and equipment in all projects – explains Jaroslaw Zarychta of PCPM.
With the support of the PCPM Foundation, local farmers can increase the efficiency of their livestock and improve their financial situation.
'My flock is large, about 200 head of sheep and goats. Shearing and milking them used to take a very long time, and we didn’t always have enough hands to do it. Now there is no such problem. The situation is that I produce the same amount of milk as before, but much faster – now it’s the buyers who come to me and buy milk directly from me, I don’t have to travel myself and lose out on middlemen. The milking machine we use allows us to sell more milk, we have more money. So I’m very happy with this help, and I thank everyone who helps us make a living from farming’ – Jafar Ibrahim Ismail adds.
Thanks to EU funds and the MASAR program, PCPM is supporting Iraqi local governments with, among other things, investments in water infrastructure, capacity building for effective management of territorial units and urban planning, and boosting local economic development. Inadequate infrastructural development and problems in these areas of life are causing many Iraqis to choose illegal, dangerous migration to Europe, including through Belarus.
Unfortunately, the mission of the Polish Center for International Aid in Iraq is in danger of closure unless the PCPM Foundation manages to obtain other funding for operations in the country beyond the EU project, which ends in December 2022.
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