TALIB MURAD ALI ELAM
CURRENT STATUS: Adviser to the KRG for Agriculture and Food Security
DATE & PLACE OF BIRTH: 1st July 1945, Baghdad
NATIONALITY: Dual Iraqi and British
MARITAL STATUS: Married
Wife: Dianne Elam,B.Sc., Ph.D. D.O.B:24/10/50, UK
Daughter: Sarah, B.Sc.,M. Res. D.O.B:6/12/80, UK
Son: Dana, B.Eng., M.Eng.PhD, D.O.B:11/5/84UK
Ty Gwyn, Islwyn Street, Abercarn, Gwent NP11 4ST. UK
Tel: 0044149 248 557
Flat 33, Building H, Zakaria Building- Erbil
Tel: 066 210 30 45, 07700866661
I. WORK EXPERIENCE:
AGRICULTURE ADVISER TO THE PRIME MINISTER OF KRG;
from 1.1.210 to date.
My plan was to initiate some improvement in the agriculture and food security sector. Following the talks I had with some of the senior Kurdish agriculturists during the first two months of my work I published a book on Kurdistan’s Agriculture, reviewing the current situation and with practical suggestions to solve the problems, (two editions of this book have been published).
My first approach was to assist the Ministry of Agriculture in solving the day to day problems and I put forward various ideas and suggestions with this in mind. I was told that I would be given a small office in the Ministry of Agriculture to enable me to work with the Ministry but unfortunately the office never materialised.
My second approach was to concentrate on sustainable strategies including;
§ The establishment of a High Committee for Food Security and Agriculture.
§ Ensuring the continued use of current agricultural land in a Land Usage Directorate in the Ministry of Agriculture.
§ Separating the agriculture investment section from the current investment organization.
§ Maximising support for the agriculture sector.
§ Establishing a department for food safety, (for both imported and locally produced food)
I submitted proposals covering details of these suggestions and on others.
I developed, and maintain, a website, WWW.KURDISTANFOODSECURITY.COM
which covers the issues I believe in.
II. EMPLOYMENT WITH FAO-UN
A. August 1996-July 2007: Regional Animal Production and Health Officer for FAO-RNE (North African and Middle East Countries), based in Cairo
- I was responsible for all aspects of FAO’s livestock programs in the thirty two countries of the North Africa and Middle East Region. This included livestock production and health, trade, food production and food security, meat inspection, transboundary disease control, prevention and control of disease, drought and avian influenza. FAO has five regional offices located in Budapest, Santiago, Harare, Bangkok and Cairo. All the other offices had more than one officer responsible for the livestock sector and many sub-regional officers apart from the country officer yet I was the only officer, in both the regional office of Cairo and the sub-regional office in Tunis, with responsibility for livestock in the Region for the entire 11 years I was there.
- I was responsible for the preparation eleven annual workplans and attached budgets and I had to travel to the various countries within the Region as necessary to organize and participate in workshops, training, and the administration and supervision of country based programs and projects.
- When avian influenza was confirmed in Egypt I was returning that night from a mission to Kurdistan and Baghdad resulting from the avian influenza outbreak there. I was seconded to be a member of Egypt’s Supreme Committee for Avian Influenza and I served alongside 5 Government Ministers and 7 governors. I and the WHO Representative to Egypt were the only non-Egyptian members of the Committee and I served on this Committee from its conception until my retirement. During the same period I was the only expatriate to serve on the Avian Influenza Scientific Committee chaired by the Minister of Agriculture.
- I addressed four biennial FAO Regional Conferences, attended by over 20 Ministers from within the Region, regarding the approval of an Animal Health Commission for the Region as the Middle East and North Africa was the only region under FAO which did not have such a commission. I managed to establish AHCNENA (Animal Health Commission for the Near East and North Africa) and I served as the Commission Secretary for the six months prior to my retirement from FAO.
- Afghanistan came under the RNE offices and I undertook two missions to the country to assess food security and drought mitigation. On the first occasion the Taliban were in power and I returned to the country after the overthrow of the Taliban.
- There are over 2,000 staff employed by the UN agencies in Cairo, the fifth largest UN centre, and I was instrumental in establishing a federation for UN staff (FUNSA) in Egypt. The federation covered a total of 22 UN agencies’ regional, sub-regional and country offices and I was its president from its inauguration in 2005 until my retirement.
B. April 1993-July 1996: FAO Representative in Somalia
Somalia, as now, held a unique position in that it had had no functioning government and constantly suffered from security problems. This resulted in my duties as FAO Representative, (
Director Post), diversifying somewhat from the conventional role of my colleagues in other countries. I supervised FAO Relief and Emergency activities in the field and attended to all matters pertaining to the FAO Representation in Somalia and the Nairobi Liaison Office. In addition I was responsible for the supervision of the more conventional activities such as agriculture, fisheries, water, plant production and protection, flood and drought problems, the construction of abattoirs, veterinary clinics, project formulations, fielding missions, appeals, the establishment of an agricultural data bank for future Somali institutions and promoting the agriculture sector. Indeed in the absence of a functioning government I found myself acting almost as a Minister of Agriculture and endeavoring to safeguard and promote the country’s agricultural sector.
I undertook a comprehensive mission to all parts of the country and initiated a detailed master plan for the future of the agriculture sector in Somalia “Towards a Strategy for Agricultural Development in Somalia”. This report, which was well received by donor communities at the time, was intended as a platform for activities when peace and normality returned to the country. I repeatedly raised my concerns regarding illegal fishing and the over fishing of Somalia’s fishing grounds with the UN but unfortunately my warnings fell on deaf ears then, though time has now proved me to have been right.
On commencing duties as FAO Representative I immediately adopted two resolutions, firstly to cooperate fully with UNOSOM, other UN agencies and NGOs, secondly to promote the concept of value for money and to be in the forefront of UN officials in Somalia who applied the principles of accountability in any activity. I am pleased to say that I had good working relations with the five Special Representatives of the UN Secretary General (SRSG), five UNDP Resident Representatives and scores of Heads of Agencies, (including Stivan Dimastura the current SRSG for Iraq) and international and national NGOs who worked in Somalia during this time. While all other agencies and international forces were based behind the perimeter fence of the destroyed USA Embassy, (similar to the current Green Zone in Baghdad), I was based outside this area adjacent to the destroyed UK Embassy.
I always made a point of informing donors of the fate of their contribution as it could lead to further donations. I remained very much aware of the then unusual, and somewhat fragile situation, which existed in Somalia because of the large numbers of UN peacekeepers. I therefore initiated the involvement of the individual peacekeepers, who came from a farming background in the seed and handtool distribution programs. This resulted in soldiers coming to FAO warehouses with Somali elders, transporting and distributing the equipment to the Somalis and the development of excellent rapport between the soldiers and the Somali peasants, a situation that was much appreciated by Koffi Annan who was Head of Peacekeeping at that time and a frequent visitor to Somalia.
On commencement of the international intervention in Somalia UNOSOM, UN Agencies and NGOs formed five sectoral working groups to cover the humanitarian needs of the country and FAO-Somalia took an active role in organizing Somali professionals to form associations for livestock and agriculture.
I attended two Peace Conferences, held under the auspices of the UN outside Somalia, which brought together the warring parties within Somalia.
C. September 1992 - April 1993, FAO Emergency Coordinator for Somalia
During this period I established and organized FAO Representation in Mogadishu in conjunction with UNDP and WHO. In order to implement Relief and Emergency Operations I had to supervise the recruitment and security of international staff specialist UNVs and a large number of national professionals and casual workers to provide logistic support. I oversaw the establishment of logistic needs including accommodation and office premises for the full complement of staff in Hargeisa Beletweine, Baidoa, Bardeera and Kismayo. In addition I supervised a huge logistic support operation, (that had very low overhead funds), to transport thousands of tons of agricultural inputs from Djibouti and Kenya for distribution in the war-torn country which lacked all infrastructure. This included air, land and sea transport, clearance procedures, communication requirements, armed guards and escorts and the necessary means of storage. I also initiated FAO activities in the country by implementing two UNDP funded projects for agriculture and livestock.
This involved very lengthy negotiations with different faction leaders, warlords, elders, local authorities and even freelance gunmen in an environment where there was no concept of the relevance of time!
D. June – September 1992, FAO Mission to SADC (South African Development Community)
As part of this large mission I, together with a fellow consultant, visited Tanzania, Malawi, Swaziland and South Africa to evaluate the impact of that year’s severe drought on agriculture, livestock and wildlife.
E. May-October 1991, Commissioned by FAO to write a training manual on Primary Animal Health Care.
I was given the task of utilizing my experiences in training nomads in Somalia to write a complete manual on primary animal health care for livestock which would be applicable throughout the developing world. Since its first publication, the Primary Animal Health Care Worker has been translated into many languages and has been utilized throughout Africa, South America and Asia.
III EMPLOYMENT WITH THE EEC:
January 1990 to outbreak of civil strife in January 1991: PARC Team Leader and epidemiologist.
Following my initial assignment with FAO in Somalia I was recruited as a Team Leader of PARC (Pan African Rinderpest Campaign) which was the largest EEC/OAU project in Somalia. This project employed over 250 local personnel and a few expatriates with the aim of eradicating rinderpest, (cattle plague), from cattle within Somalia. If this was achieved, and peace prevailed, it would ensure the resumption of cattle exportation for the country which earned 80% of its foreign earnings from livestock exports.
IV. EMPLOYMENT WITH FAO:
Project Leader November 1988 – January 1990 CTA-FAO
This FAO project was to train Nomadic Animal Health Auxilliaries (NAHA). The project gave me the opportunity to develop a knowledge of the Somali people and the unique situation of a nation virtually dependant on the production of livestock, and where all aspects of the economy, culture and the environment are related to this. I lived and worked with the pastoralists of the Bay and Bakool regions and developed an excellent knowledge of the way of Somali life and how to communicate with the Somali people.
V. 1985-1988 UK based Consultant
I worked as a free-lance consultant from my home base in the UK. I provided expertise for agriculture and livestock projects in the Middle East and North Africa for both the private and parastatal sectors. During this period I also undertook three FAO missions to work in S. Yemen and Saudi Arabia
VI. 1975 – 1984 Tripoli University Libya
I was recruited from the University of Liverpool to assist a non-veterinarian Dean to develop the newly established, and the first, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and its links with British and other European Universities. I was initially on a six months temporary assignment but became involved in establishing the brand new school. I joined the University as a lecturer, I was Head of a department for 7years and promoted to Associate Professor in 1983.As departmental head I managed the budget, recruited staff, taught and organized the teaching programs and day to day work with a group of expatriate lecturers and a large team of local and expatriate auxillary staff. Apart from my university duties I was heavily involved with other expatriate experts and some of my ex-students in the development of various agricultural sectors for the Government that at that time was investing heavily in the agriculture sector but had few national experts.
VII. 1971-1975 Postgraduate Student and Researcher, UK
I was awarded a Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (Lisbon) grant for 2 years to study for a Ph.D. in the Faculty of Veterinary Science, Liverpool University. After obtaining my degree I worked for a further year at the University as a post-doctoral research worker as I could not return to Sulimani as I had no family left in Iraq.
VIII. 1970-1971 University of Sulimani.
After a short spell in the army as a veterinarian in charge of food inspection and the handling of military animals I joined the newly established University of Sulimani as University Farm Manager with the responsibility of teaching animal health and microbiology to agricultural students..Helped the Sulimani Veterinary Services during the immunization campaigning.
Date Institution Qualification
1986-1988 Dept. Extra Mural Studies Dipl (Econo&Socs)
1974-1975 Liverpool University Post –Doctoral
1971-1974 Liverpool University PhD
1964-1969 Faculty of Veterinary DVM
Fluent: Arabic, English, and Kurdish
Good Working knowledge: Farsi, Somali.
Apart from my Ph.D. thesis, scientific periodical papers and articles in various professional magazines and journals I have produced the following books:
· ‘Farben und Merkmale beim Pferd’ (1986) Publisher BLV Verlagsgesellschaft, Munich, Germany
· ‘A Manual for The Primary Animal Health Care Worker’ (1995). Illustrated, 300 pages, published by FAO (Rome) as a Golden edition to mark FAO’s 50th anniversary. Available from FAO in English, Arabic, French and Spanish and also translated into Farsi and Somali.(FAO refused to produce a Kurdish version even though the front cover illustration is a Kurdish shepherd.)
· During my time in this post I was responsible for the preparation, supervision and editing over 25 manuals,
· Appointed as Lecturer, Tripoli University, October 1st 1975.
· Promoted to Asst. Professor, Triploi University, July 11th1978.
· Associate Professor, University of Tripoli, April 1st 1983
· Made a Professor, University of Cairo, November 25th 2004
MEMBERSHIPS AND ASSOCIATIONS
· Member of the Egyptian Veterinary Association
· First president of the Federation of the UN Staff Associations (FUNSA), Egypt, 2005 to my retirement
· Chairman of FAO-Egypt’s Staff Association for 10 years
· Life member of the British Diabetic Association
I have maintained an interest in livestock and agricultural developments and I am a regular contributor to the monthly Agriculture Magazine in Egypt, (the first publication of its type in the Arab world.) I also write to many Websites including GRAIN on Food Security, Agriculture, Water, Environment and Livestock. I have two websites,
Since my retirement(july 2008) from FAO I have obtained an allotment in Wales, (a plot of land for food production) where I grow a variety of vegetables and fruits for home consumption. I also breed and maintain a small flock of Cochin bantam chickens for home use and I have bred quail and red legged partridges (KAW), the latter being a small contribution to maintaining the natural environment.
N.B. A link to the website of, FAO(UN)-RNE, is given below. On this website can be found my brief C.V., published in Arabic in 2007 and still current.