Saudi Arabia VIP Delegation
Dubai – The International Center for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA) hosted a high level delegation from the Ministry of Agriculture of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on Wednesday, 16 January 2013, in their headquarters in Dubai.H.E. Eng. Mohammed A. Al Shiha, Deputy Minister for Agriculture, has led the Saudi delegation and was received by Dr. Ahmed Al Sharif- Deputy Director General of ICBA and Dr. Mohamed Amrani- Director of Research and Innovation Division in addition to several senior scientists and researchers, who provided a complete description of the center’s activities and history along with an overview of the ongoing researches and projects.
The Saudi delegation had the opportunity to go through a guided tour across the various divisions and departments of the center along with a field visit covering the 35 acres of farm land, which constitutes the core of the research and development facility of ICBA. Dr. Ahmed Al Sharif highlighted the current experiments in relations to the Quinoa plant; it is the only plant food that contains all the essential amino acids, trace elements and vitamins and contains no gluten. The importance of the Quinoa plant is reflected through the decision of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), which has declared 2013 the International Year of Quinoa. The Saudi Agriculture Ministry delegation and ICBA expressed their interest in extending the cooperation between their respective organizations and have highlighted some of the immediate actions that could be taken in that regard; whether, through direct collaboration, or through regional initiatives.“This visit is very important for us; and as a Ministry of Agriculture, we will benefit a lot from this center and we see great potential for cooperation between our institutions” concluded the H.E. Eng. Mohammed A. Al Shiha.
The International Center for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA) was established in 1996 by an initiative from the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) in cooperation with the Ministry of Environment and Water of the United Arab Emirates and the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi.The center started its operation in 1999 and since then has achieved valuable scientific researches and published numerous findings and white papers about traditional and non-traditional agriculture that could be cultivated using marginal water resources such as high-salinity water, treated water and wastewater.Access to fresh water is an immediate challenge in the Arab region and this matter will only grow worse in the next 15 to 20 years. This is where ICBA’s role is critical and why so far it has conducted researches on over 10,000 races of plants that are tolerant to water with high salinity; identifying the most productive races that could be planted on an economical scale.The role of ICBA on the genetic level is complimented with its research on the management side of the cultivation and farming process. ICBA research team has achieved great results in terms of increasing the crops productivity and reducing the usage of water and energy and ensuring the highest return of investment to the farmers in the process.As a result now ICBA researches are opens the road to increase the available farming land exponentially, hence playing a major role in ensuring food security and sustainability across the region and beyond.