Zahra’s agri-business dream to revive Basra’s greenery

27 juin 2023
ITC News

31-year-old Zahraa Abdulsattar is a native of Basra. She graduated from the Faculty of Agriculture, Department of Soil and Water Resources Science at Basra University.

Inspired by Basra's renowned palm trees, she envisions a project on tissue cultivation to revive Basra's greenery. 

“Before I start my business, I plan on conducting a feasibility study, and then will seek guidance and expertise of professionals in palm cultivation, such as a professor well-versed in the field.”

While many are dedicated to the revival of palm trees, Zahraa's focus remains on tissue cultivation as an effective means of combatting environmental challenges such as diseases, soil salinity, dust, and various plant ailments.

To identify and understand the needs and concerns of youth entrepreneurs in Iraq, especially those impeding their successful participation in the agricultural value chain, the International Trade Centre (ITC) and the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) conduct a nationwide Youth Entrepreneurship Barometer survey through the European Union-funded Strengthening the Agriculture and Agri-Food Value Chain and Improving Trade Policy in Iraq ( (SAAVI) project.

The survey called the Youth Barometer, is conducted across five governorates, and serves as a means of understanding and amplifying the views of young people in Iraq who are looking to start their own businesses and contribute to the economy. Barriers that require coordinated action are also identified.

Zahraa has recently finished the 10 online modules on entrepreneurship and agricultural skills.

Her participation in the SAAVI Tadreeb training, has not only provided her with valuable knowledge but has also supported her confidence and equipped her with the necessary skills to embark on this project. Just halfway through the training, she already feels that she has made significant progress.

"I've shared information about the training with my friends and family members who may also be interested. The Association of Agricultural Engineering played a pivotal role in introducing me to this transformative training opportunity".

The upcoming Youth Barometer will be launched in August 2023. It identifies opportunities and challenges facing young people, across eight key themes including social and cultural norms, access to finance, infrastructure, market access, and ecosystem support.

The first Youth Entrepreneurship Barometer, was launched in October 2022. According to the findings, 79% considered entrepreneurship to be a desirable career choice, but more than 90% had never received support from an incubator, an accelerator and a youth association. 2 in 3 youth identified access to finance as a key hurdle in setting up a business.

The findings are a reminder that creating new opportunities and so many other young people in Iraq is the need of the hour.

SAAVI seeks to promote inclusive economic growth and job creation, particularly for Iraqi youth, by improving agricultural competitiveness and supporting trade development. The project is implemented in close collaboration with the Government of Iraq, NRC, and other partners.