From Desert Farm to Fork
Due to prolonged droughts and rising heat, an increase in soil and water salinity levels are being observed in marginal areas, rendering agricultural lands unproductive. The situation gets aggravated in desert areas where freshwater resources are extremely limited and not replenished. Saline agriculture constitutes one of the farming solutions for marginal and salt-affected areas. Various projects adopting biosaline farming approaches have been implemented worldwide. Some of these ventures combine different production components (marine species and halophytes) using saline water resources. The EXPO LIVE multidisciplinary project was implemented in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and introduced Tilapia and Salicornia in eight farms in the UAE following the Integrated Agri-Aquaculture model. Salicornia was irrigated with the reject brine from desalination and aquaculture effluents. The fresh produce was transformed through a food industry into innovative Salicornia-based food products, putting the first pillars for Salicornia's value chain development in a desert environment. During the project implementation, various challenges were identified and initiatives to overcome these have been already launched.