U.S. Troops Bring Greenhouse Irrigation Technology to Iraqi Farmers
With greenhouse irrigation technology, U.S. troops give farmers new hope and solutions to a historic drought.
U.S. soldiers explain the drip-irrigation system used in greenhouses to Iraqi farmers. The greenhouses are part of a new project to revitalize the agriculture industry in the Diyala province.
U.S. Army photo by Pvt. Zachary Zuber
Diyala, Iraq – Growing and selling crops is a vital part of the agrarian culture in Diyala, a province in Iraq. What was once one of the most fertile regions in the Middle East is now a difficult place for farmers to cultivate their land.
As a significantly lower amount of rainfall descends on the farmlands of Iraq, soldiers from Headquarters and Headquarters Co., 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division are providing an innovative solution to nurture plant growth year-round.
With the construction of almost 40 new greenhouses in the Wajihiya district of Diyala, the “Highlanders” soldiers are hoping to mitigate the effects of the drought as well as infuse new life into the agricultural sector.
“The biggest challenge that these farmers face is the water shortage, and these greenhouses can solve that problem,” says Capt. Samuel McDowell, lead officer on the project for 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment. “Almost 80 percent of the people in this area are farmers, and half of them are unemployed due to the current conditions.”
For farmers in the area, the new buildings represent an opportunity they have never seen before. The greenhouses take advantage of a modern method of drip irrigation; a slow flow of water trickles on individual plants from a specific pipe, which requires less water for growing requirements.
“The buildings let us grow crops during the colder months, by protecting them from the weather,” says Abdullah Halif al Khalim, a muqtar (a leading village official) in the Wajihiya district. “Now we can grow tomatoes, cucumbers and other important crops all year.”
These types of produce are important to the local farmers as they are staples of Iraqi cuisine. By growing tomatoes or other crops, even during the cold months, the citizens have food for their families, and colorful produce will continue to line the streets in the local markets.