MOAUSAID-Tarabot worked with the Ministry of Agriculture to implement administrative reforms through capacity building in project selection and implementation, and procurement practices to enhance the ministry’s capabilities in service delivery. Sustainability was at the foundation of USAID-Tarabot’s training of ministry staff in project management and in providing technical assistance to support the practical application of engineers’ new skills and knowledge on a pilot project. Tarabot introduced procurement practices in line with international standards and planning methods in coordination with national development goals, and worked to eliminate or reform legislation to improve the ministry’s ability to deliver services. To illustrate its ownership of these initiatives and ensure the sustainability of Tarabot’s work, the Government of Iraq allocated $63,750 in cost share funding to support Tarabot’s activities with the Ministry of Agriculture.

Project Management

USAID-Tarabot, in partnership with COMSEC, strengthened the capacity of the Ministry of Agriculture by training 21 engineers on modern project management techniques using Project Management Institute (PMI) standards. Training was provided to engineers in PMI processes, estimation techniques and MS Project, feasibility studies, and earned value management. With Tarabot’s assistance, engineers were able to effectively apply their new skills on a project for the construction of refrigerated warehouses in Wasit, budgeted at $2.5 million. Through Tarabot’s intervention, ministry engineers developed realistic schedules and cost estimates using PMI processes and MS Project, conducted feasibility studies, and identified a work breakdown structure. The project team also developed a project charter and prepared the scope of the project under the guidance of Tarabot. Through hands-on experience, ministry engineers were able to translate their new knowledge into practice. The warehouses are expected to benefit 100 agronomists who will be able to store 160 hectares worth of produce and products before it reaches the marketplace.

Tarabot also supported seven ministry engineers to prepare them for certification as Project Management Professionals (PMP) through a 35-hour training course and simulation exercises. The 35-hour course is a pre-requisite for registering with the PMI to take the PMP exam. Engineers are now equipped with the techniques, skills, and knowledge required for certification, ensuring the anchoring of sound project management practices within the Ministry of Agriculture.

Project Planning

USAID-Tarabot worked in partnership with the Government of Iraq to improve capital investment planning through capacity building and institutional reform measures. With the assistance of Tarabot, ministries are better equipped to select and plan investment projects that maximize value and impact in service delivery, and ensure local projects are coordinated with national priorities as outlined in the National Development Plan 2013–2017.

USAID-Tarabot’s efforts with the Ministry of Agriculture focused on the development of criteria for the selection of projects based on cost-benefit analyses of economic, social, financial, spatial, and environmental factors with due consideration for development goals, risk levels, and direct and indirect impacts. To this end, a series of capacity building workshops and on-the-job trainings were held for 29 staff members from the Ministry of Agriculture to enable them to use project selection criteria in project planning. The capacity building program delivered by Tarabot consisted of three phases: 1) assessing current planning processes, 2) aligning project selection with National Development Plan goals and developing selection criteria, and 3) applying selection criteria in the development of project plans. With the assistance of Tarabot, trained ministry staff applied their project selection and planning knowledge to develop a midterm investment plan to guide the ministry’s capital investment strategy.

To support the management of the ministry’s projects, USAID-Tarabot assisted the Ministry of Agriculture to operate the Iraq Development Management System, an online software package for overseeing the ministry’s capital investment cycle. Tarabot provided 38 ministry staff members with training on the system’s initiation and maintenance, including how to update and enter project information into the system, query it for information, and generate reports on projects and their implementation progress.

Public Procurement

USAID-Tarabot, in partnership with the Ministry of Planning, is working with the Government of Iraq to execute its investment budget through fair and transparent procurement systems, enabling a favorable environment for international and domestic businesses and better services for the Iraqi people.

USAID-Tarabot assisted the Ministry of Agriculture to reform its public procurement practices to be in compliance with Ministry of Planning requirements and international best practices through training 30 ministry officials in new procurement procedures. Tarabot also assisted the ministry in developing procurement plans for 2012 and 2013 to guide the ministry’s procurement activities using standardized procedures.

Regulatory Reform

Many countries in transition face the challenge of broadening the enabling environment to reform and stimulate economic growth and create jobs. Outdated and unnecessary laws and regulations impose efficiency costs on economic activity, while promoting corruption and reducing the government’s ability to deliver services. Tarabot worked to review legislation and regulations and made recommendations for their reform or elimination through an inclusive and transparent process built on extensive stakeholder input.

The Ministry of Agriculture reviewed 106 business-related regulations that affect the agricultural sector in Iraq with the assistance of USAID-Tarabot’s Iraq Solution for Regulatory and Administrative Reform (ISRAR) initiative. Legislations reviewed include the “Law for the Cultivation of Flax for 1925” and the “Cultivation of Farmland Law.” In partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture, Tarabot identified outdated laws and regulations that hamper economic and private sector growth, and set forth recommendations for their elimination or reform.