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New community initiative supports food security efforts in UAE

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

The International Center for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA) has successfully completed a unique community initiative aimed at raising public awareness about agriculture and food production under local conditions and contributing to broader food security efforts in the UAE.

As part of the initiative, ICBA worked together with local partners and authorities to promote sustainable agriculture and urban farming.

In collaboration with the Emirates Red Crescent, ICBA also shared produce from its fields and greenhouses: 4 tonnes of dates; 1.6 tonnes of fresh vegetables, including cucumber and capsicum; 400 kilograms of watermelon; as well as 7 tonnes of pearl millet green fodder and 5.2 tonnes of forage produced from halophytic grasses and crops like Salicornia and amaranth.

To encourage people, especially youth, to learn more about farming and food production, ICBA also distributed 200 units of ready-to-grow sandboxes for home gardening among a number of individuals and organizations such as the Ajman Youth Center and the Sharjah Center for Learning Difficulties.

Moreover, through its social media platforms, ICBA raised awareness about the soil and water management techniques and crops suited to marginal environments and shared tips and instructions on how to grow food at home.

Speaking about the initiative, Dr. Ismahane Elouafi said: "The pandemic presented an opportunity for ICBA to help local communities in these unprecedented times. In May this year, we launched a unique community initiative to grow, harvest, and share agricultural produce and raise awareness about the importance of food. In collaboration with the Emirates Red Crescent, our team shared fresh vegetables, fruits, and harvests of climate-resilient forage crops that ICBA scientists have identified, evaluated, and developed over the past two decades of research. We also shared ready-to-grow sandboxes and technical know-how on how to produce food at home."

"I would like thank the Emirates Red Crescent and the Advanta Seeds for their great support for the initiative. I would also like to commend ICBA’s team for their extraordinary efforts in making this initiative a great success even during the sweltering weather," Dr. Ismahane Elouafi added.

For her part, Dr. Tarifa Alzaabi, said: "We are delighted to see that we were able to reach out to a large segment of people of different ages and promote agricultural knowledge and modern technologies. We also raised their awareness about healthy eating habits, especially in view of the Covid-19 situation. It was certainly a great opportunity for us to encourage youth to learn about agriculture and engage them in stimulating social activities through virtual training programs, online educational and awareness campaigns and live talk programs.”

Called the power of triple noon or 3N (derived from the Arabic letter ن, which is pronounced as noon), the initiative was launched on Zayed Humanitarian Day (19th day of the month of Ramadan), and represented three key actions: grow, harvest and share.