ICBA participates in wheat farm project inauguration in Sharjah
The International Center for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA) recently took part in the inauguration of a wheat farm project in Mleiha, the emirate of Sharjah, the UAE. The event was inaugurated by H.H. Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and the Ruler of Sharjah, on 31 March 2022.
During the exhibition, which was part of the inauguration, ICBA showcased 30 accessions of wheat, including heat- and salt-tolerant ones, from different countries, as well as the UAE, the center’s host country.
At the event, H.H. Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and the Ruler of Sharjah, was briefed by Dr. Tarifa Alzaabi, Acting Director General of ICBA, about the center’s work on wheat and how it identifies, tests and preserves wheat varieties suited to environments like the UAE.
ICBA's work on wheat is part of its broader efforts to find and develop salt-, heat- and drought-tolerant crops for food and feed suited to marginal environments - areas of the world most vulnerable to climate change, salinization and water scarcity. The center promotes crop diversification through collecting, preserving, evaluating and introducing such crops in marginal environments.
Thus, more than 16,000 accessions of around 300 plant species from over 150 countries and territories have been collected and stored in ICBA’s genebank since 2000. This collection also includes 250 seed samples of 70 wild plant species from the UAE.
The genebank is also home to about 123 accessions of wheat originating from different countries, including Australia, Egypt, India, Japan, Mexico, Oman, Pakistan, Sudan, the UAE and the USA.
The center provides seed samples to various institutions around the world for research, breeding and introduction. Over the years, the center has distributed more than 8,572 seed samples to partner organizations in 60 countries.
As part of the conservation of plant genetic resources in the UAE, ICBA also conducts regular expeditions to different locations to collect some of the important indigenous species and deposit them in its genebank for the future.
As a result of these efforts, scientists have been able to identify and study four local cereal genotypes (one landrace of barley and three landraces of wheat) in the emirate of Ras al-Khaimah, preserve Halfa grass from possible extinction, and uncover and document 30 plant species previously unknown to exist in the country.