In late September, the Sustainable Development Goals Fund of the Episcopal Diocese of New York awarded $15,000 to the Church of the Epiphany to help reestablish chicken farming in northern Iraq. Epiphany is collaborating with St. George’s Anglican Church, Baghdad, Stand with Iraqi Christians (SWIC) in the Diocese of Pennsylvania, and International Christian Concern (ICC), an NGO, to participate in a pilot project to redevelop this vital industry. A well-connected project manager employed jointly by St. George’s and ICC has been vetting and recruiting farmers for the past year.
Christians have also been a crucial component of Iraq’s economy, developing a variety of agricultural sectors, particularly chicken farming. Prior to ISIS, the city of Qaraqosh was home to up to 100 farms producing poultry. The Iraq War and ISIS destroyed the area. Countless people were killed, and many more became refugees. Today, with stability returning, former chicken farmers with the skills and the desire to rebuild the poultry industry remain in the area. With sufficient funding, these men will help to create jobs, bring economic growth and community development, and instill pride in a people long without hope.
Two chicken farms were started in April 2019, each with 3,000 chicks. Chicks are taken to market in 30-50 days and Iraq possesses an infrastructure for processing and transporting the poultry. And the first group of chickens was taken to market in June. Proceeds from the sale of these chickens enabled these farms to become self-sustaining, using a portion of the market proceeds to purchase and care for the next flock. All new funds raised, including the grant money awarded to Epiphany, is used to start new farms. This exciting project creates self-sustaining enterprises in a relatively short time. In addition to the farmer and his family, economic benefit extends to approximately 134 other jobs, including farm day laborers, veterinarians and staff, feed suppliers, including growers and sellers, hatchery workers, processing workers (butchers) and transporters, and sellers of both live and processed chickens, all of whom will benefit as the market expands. Importantly, the people of Iraq will benefit from improved and lower cost food, along with the development of a more stable community in Christian Northern Iraq.