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ICBA forms new partnership to boost date palm research

Monday, May 15, 2017

The International Center for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA) has formed a new partnership with the General Secretariat of the Khalifa International Award for Date Palm and Agricultural Innovation to step up efforts in date palm research and production.

ICBA signed a memorandum of understanding to this effect with the General Secretariat at a function at the Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi, UAE, on 15 May 2017.

The high-profile function was attended by, among others, H.E. Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development of the UAE; FAO Director General Dr. José Graziano da Silva; and several UAE and Arab ministers.

Dr. Ismahane Elouafi, Director General of ICBA, said of this partnership: “For many years, our center has been at the forefront of research on date palm under marginal conditions in Gulf countries, including the UAE. We have a long-standing relationship with the Khalifa International Award for Date Palm and Agricultural Innovation. We are very happy and proud to formalize this relationship to develop and promote knowledge about this sacred fruit in the region and the world.”

The agreement provides a framework for cooperation for three years in research on date palm production and salinity, as well as knowledge sharing.

Under the agreement, ICBA will also provide support to the General Secretariat in organizing the Sixth International Date Palm Conference in 2018.

ICBA scientists have been studying long-term effects of saline water on date palm fruit quality and quantity. To date the ten most common varieties from the UAE and eight from Saudi Arabia have been evaluated for production and water use. In the UAE alone, 1 billion cubic meters of water is used annually to irrigate date palm plantations, and similarly large amounts are used in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries. Today ICBA has water productivity data, obtained in collaboration with the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi, that helps to reduce date palm irrigation requirements by up to 35%. ICBA’s work on date palm has been recognized twice by the Khalifa International Award for Date Palm and Agricultural Innovation.