• Going Beyond the Limits: Future Food Security is About Exploring non-traditional Crops and Breakthrough Technologies
Going Beyond the Limits: Future Food Security is About Exploring non-traditional Crops and Breakthrough Technologies

Alternative, non-traditional crops and technologies could play an essential role in contributing to future food safety in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

This was just one of the main points made throughout an open day and round-table discussions participated in by H.E. Mariam Bint Mohammed Almheiri, Minister of State for Future Food Safety, at International Facility for Biosaline Agriculture, the winner of the most effective Arab Proving Ground at the very best Arab Awards in 2017.

During the meeting, H.E. Mariam Bint Mohammed Almheiri said: "The UAE is characterised by its extremely difficult problems for farming, it is a fact that the country's surface, topography and climate ranks as amongst one of the most difficult in the world for crop expanding. Fresh water access is a particular concern here - something that is worsened by the reality that farming is the UAE's most consuming industry, accounting for roughly 72% of the country's overall freshwater consumption. This need is more impacted by diminishing the water sources, which are lowering at a rate of 0.5 centimeters each year."

Her Excellency included: "Our freshwater requirements are currently being satisfied by energy-intensive desalination techniques, which generate 60% of the nation's materials, yet this number is specific to increase as the country's populace expands. It all adds up to us should discover new methods of gardening that are less energy extensive and minimize the stress on our water sources. Fortunately, for many years, the UAE has established as a center of innovation and has become prominent as a 'can do' country that utilises the current innovation to cause social breakthroughs. The agricultural market is no different and we are currently while establishing brand-new power and water-saving remedies that will certainly optimize plant growing, thus enhancing our future food safety and security resilience."

Over nearly two decades the International Facility for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA) has been determining, screening and introducing different, non-traditional crops and technologies that aid to produce more food, save even more resources and safeguard the atmosphere. The center has developed and piloted a large range of options suited to highly briny and arid problems in different areas all over the world.

ICBA has, for example, been leading since 2007 a global program on quinoa making it a plant of selection in locations influenced by salinity, dry spell and water scarcity. The program is until now in progress in Egypt, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Morocco, Oman, Tajikistan, the UAE, Uzbekistan and Yemen. Today the center has 4 evaluated lines that do well under highly completely dry and brackish conditions. Multi-year tests have actually revealed that ICBA's lines produce, on average, as much as 5.41 tonnes of seed each hectare under very briny, sandy and arid problems in the UAE.

Dr. Ismahane Elouafi said: "At ICBA, we take a look at a wide collection of soil, water and plant performance. Our major emphasis gets on finding options which are best suited to local problems and are affordable and efficient. Decreasing the water footprint of crops under production in the UAE, such as date palms and veggies, is vital for UAE food and water safety. Thanks to the UAE government's ongoing support, we have been able to pilot several agricultural remedies and share ideal practices recognized in the UAE with our partners in various other nations."

The center also carries out research study programs on cured wastewater, saline water and seawater irrigation in agriculture and landscape design. In the UAE, for instance, scientists have been analyzing because 2013 the pros and cons of treated wastewater usage. This effort has significant effects for water monitoring as treated wastewater make up 12 percent of the overall water in the nation and goes through tertiary therapy. Lasting experiments have explored the effect of irrigating vegetables such as carrots, lettuce, eggplant and tomato, in addition to landscaping plants and date hands, with treated wastewater. The outcomes indicate that dealt with wastewater is an excellent choice to freshwater when it comes to farming and landscaping under dry problems.

ICBA also thinks about decline brine and seawater as different sources for irrigation. The center has actually operated for numerous years inland and seaside modular farms jointly with the Ministry of Climate Adjustment and Environment of the UAE to study using turn down brine and seawater for aquaculture. The inland modular farm utilizes desalinated water for vegetables, reject salt water for fish, and aquaculture effluents for halophytic plants, while the seaside modular ranch makes use of seawater for fish and tank farming effluents for halophytic plants.

Researchers have additionally functioned because 2015 on a low-priced modern technology to make biochar from green waste. Biochar is a charcoal utilized as a dirt amendment and generated from plant issue and kept in the soil as a means of getting rid of carbon dioxide from the environment. In the UAE, for example, 0.6 million tonnes of green waste is produced from some 40 million day palm trees yearly. If delegated break down on the surface or dumped in landfills, this biomass can produce 880 million tonnes of carbon dioxide every year.

The center has actually tested its low-priced innovation in area tests for soil renovation and crop production. The trials have shown that biochar significantly enhances dirt fertility, assists to conserve 30-35 percent of water and dirt nutrients, and mitigates carbon dioxide emissions.

To enhance water and energy make use of performance of horticultural production in local conditions, ICBA has actually also finished a long-term relative research of growing cucumber, tomato, sweet pepper and other vegetables in a widely-used high-tech greenhouse and a standard net-house. The research study showed that greenhouse air conditioning is one of the most water-intensive process as it ate 1.6 times more water compared to the amount required to water cucumber. In contrast, the misting system in the net-house called for regarding 20 percent of the water made use of to irrigate cucumber. Data likewise showed that the greenhouse taken in 62 times much more power than the net-house.

Throughout the years, ICBA's research study has actually revealed that there are numerous option, non-traditional plants and innovations that are fit to the conditions of the UAE. And these crops and modern technologies can enter into a bigger series of solutions focused on making sure future food security in the country.

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