COLLEGE STATION, Texas, Dec. 15 (UPI) -- Five U.S. universities, led by Texas A&M University's cooperative extension, are set to begin an effort to stabilize Iraq through agriculture.
Areas the consortium will focus on include arid land crop production development, water resources and irrigation management, livestock production and animal health, private sector development and market development, Texas extension service officials said. It also will develop ties among Iraqi colleges, extension personnel, farming groups and Iraqi communities and households.
Other universities involved are New Mexico State University, Washington State University, Utah State University and University of California, Davis. The schools were selected because of their agricultural expertise, particularly in arid lands agriculture, a news release said.
"While our primary emphasis will be on improving the lives of the Iraqis through helping them build and maintain their agricultural capacity, we will also be working to improve women's health and nutrition and toward developing youth leadership in that country," said Ed Smith, director of Texas Cooperative Extension.
Smith said this effort, part of the Iraq Agricultural Extension Revitalization Project, would help restore economic stability to Iraq. Agriculture is Iraq's second-largest economic contributor.
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns said his department awarded the universities $5.3 million for the project.