Partnership leads to better agricultural outcomes for the UAE

  • Partnership leads to better agricultural outcomes for the UAE
    Partnership leads to better agricultural outcomes for the UAE
Wednesday, 13 March 2013

The Ministry of Environment and Water (moew) and the International Center for Biosaline Agricutlure (ICBA) collaborate to find solutions to challenges facing agriculture in marginal environments. H.E. Dr Rashid Ahmed bin Fahed visits ICBA to discuss additional collaboration.

The visit of H.E. Dr Rashid Ahmed bin Fahed, Minister of Environment and Water, to the International Center for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA) follows a long history of partnership and collaboration between the Ministry and ICBA. Currently, the Ministry is jointly working with ICBA to find solutions to challenges facing agriculture in marginal environments. 

The Minister met with Dr Ismahane Elouafi, Director General and senior scientists at ICBA and discussed the importance of the center in the country and the region as well as further collaboration opportunities on various initiatives. These included those related to climate change adaptation, rehabilitating and reclaiming abandoned salt-affected farms, water productivity, alternative crops, use of treated wastewater and salt-tolerant crop species.

“The relationship between ICBA and the Ministry of Environment and Water goes back to the establishment of the center; we enjoy a good relationship and look forward to increasing the level of collaboration in research areas as well as capacity development of staff in the Ministry”, said Ismahane Elouafi.

ICBA has taken on the challenge of rehabilitating and reclaiming abandoned salt-affected farms in Abu Dhabi. Three model farms are being planted with perennial and annual forages irrigated with saline water. Preliminary results indicate that the improved modern irrigation systems that have been installed and management practices can reduce water use by 20-30% and salt-tolerant grasses for animal feed provide alternatives to the freshwater-thirsty Rhodes grass.

Dr. Mohamed Amrani, the Director of Research and Innovation at ICBA, indicated that the results are excellent news to a large number of farmers in the UAE in particular and to the Arab region in general, which have a large portion of salt-affected and marginal lands.

ICBA’s research also looks at the nexus between water and agricultural production with particular emphasis on adaptation to climate change. The ultimate objective is to develop strategies and management practices for adapting to climate change in marginal environments. Up-to-date information on water use in different sectors and the likely effects of changes in climate on water resources and agriculture are essential in managing water for sustainable development. To provide governments with comprehensive information, ICBA and partners are collecting and processing data and new information from geographic information systems (GIS), remote sensing and modeling to model future scenarios and perform risk analyses. Governments can use the scenarios and analyses to assess opportunities and constraints imposed by regional climate conditions on sustainable development and food security.

The International Center for Biosaline Agriculture is an international center of excellence for research and development in marginal environments. Established in 1999 under the leadership of the Islamic Development Bank and the United Arab Emirates, ICBA originally was a research and development institute focusing on the problems of salinity and using saline water for irrigated agriculture. The Center has evolved over the last 14 years into a modern research facility with a team of international scientists conducting applied research to improve the well-being of poor farmers in marginal environments. Strategically the Center has broadened its initial focus from applied research and technology development in saline-irrigated agriculture, to a broader mandate for improving agricultural production within an integrated, water resource system, approach.