ICBA VIP Open Day 2019
Mr. Mohamed Dekkak attended the International Center for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA) VIP open day on March 10, 2019. As an environmentalist, he supports the organization’s initiative to improve the research and development in agricultural productivity and sustainability in marginal and saline environments.
According to him, the grim milestone came a lot sooner than ever since 1987 when the measure was first determined. In other words, people are consuming more and quicker than the world’s biocapacity could deal with. The world is eating up more water and different assets, producing more carbon dioxide into the air and contaminating nature unimaginably. Mr. Dekkak wants everyone to be fully aware of the ways where we can help our environment while helping the people in need.
The International Center for Biosaline Agriculture is a nonprofit organization that was founded in 1999. The organization’s main focus is on the issue of salinization and the utilization of saline water intended for irrigated agriculture. The organization is one of the organizations that are helping to find solutions in agricultural productivity and sustainability in marginal and saline environments by advancing the research and development.
The event was participated by HE Dr. Jose Graziano da Silva, Dir. Gen. of the Food and Agriculture, HE Mariam bint Mohammed Saeed, the Minister State for Food Security of the UAE, HE Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, Managing Dir. of the Environment Agency- Abu Dhabi and the Chairperson of the ICBA Board of directors, HE Dr. Bandar M. H Hajjar, Pres. of the Islamic Dev’t Bank Group. It is celebrated along with a number of ministers from different countries, heads of international organizations and other high ranked dignitaries.
The International Center for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA) is a global nonprofit, organization that was founded in 1999, due to the imaginative management of the Islamic Dev’t Bank (IDB), the Org. of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) Fund, the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Dev’t and the Gov’t of United Arab Emirates.
At that time, they identified that there is a growing salinity problem that is affecting the Middle East and North Africa region and hindering their attempt to improve their food and water security. There was a dire need for applied research tackling salinity problems and utilizing saline water for food and feed production, whereas there was no international organization tackling this serious problem. Throughout the first 10 years of the Center’s existence, they implemented many projects that aimed to improve the well-being of poor farmers that have to deal with salinity problem. Along the way we built up a wealth of information and successes, as well as a team of global scientists with extensive internal capacity comprised of a world-class modern research facility As they evolved, so did the global problems related to salinity; the world is daily losing 2,000 hectares to salt-induced degradation, and the marginal areas across the globe are increasing. This is affecting the food and income security of those living of it, as well as impacting the water security of several countries. ICBA’s success and these growing global problems promoted the revision of ICBA’s mandate and expanding its focus from merely focusing on salinity issues, to a broader scope that aims to identify sustainable solutions for food and nutritional security in marginal environments through facilitating access to technology, improved germplasm, plus relevant policies, strategies and programs. ICBA Strategy 2013-2023 clearly identifies its new mandate and the impact they aspire to achieve, and the strategy is available at their website www.biosaline.org.
ICBA and FAO Partnership Agreement
On March 10, 2019, in UAE, Dr. Ismahane Elouafi, Director General of the International Centre for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA) and Dr. José Graziano da Silva, the Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, signed agreements today, growing existing participation between the two institutions on plant hereditary assets, biosaline agriculture and environmental change adaptation on the planet’s marginal environments.
Under this Article 15 agreement, the yield germplasm accumulation stored in ICBA’s gene bank will formally become part of the Multilateral System of Access and Benefit-sharing, adding to the world’s biggest worldwide gene pool of plant hereditary material, accessible to ranchers, plant reproducers and researchers for the maintainable generation of sustenance from plants.
The material in this tremendous worldwide gene pool is traded far and wide at a normal rate of around 1,000 exchanges for each day to help ranchers, plant reproducers and researchers in growing new atmosphere versatile yield assortments to create increasingly nutritious food from plants.
ICBA’s novel gene bank is home to one of the world’s biggest accumulations of germplasm of warmth and salt-tolerant plant species, with more than 14,000 increases of around 240 plant species from in excess of 150 nations and regions of the world, notwithstanding around 250 seed tests of 70 wild plant species from the UAE, the middle’s host nation.
The FAO International Treaty is a key universal lawful instrument for the worldwide protection, manageable use and sharing of the advantages of plant biodiversity, which it does through its different components, most prominently the Multilateral System, the Global Information System, and the Benefit-sharing Fund.
It is additionally the first lawfully restricting global instrument to recognize the gigantic commitment of indigenous networks and ranchers to the advancement and the board of yield biodiversity and calls upon all Contracting Organizations to ensure Farmers’ Rights.
The centre has so far executed projects in more than 30 nations in the Middle East, North Africa, sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, Central Asia, and the Caucasus.
As a result of the increase in the demand for fresh water due to the increase in the population, attention was directed to the seawater to be exploited in agriculture, so there have been many studies on the possibility of planting plants using salt water has been issued many of the results in this area and the classification of plants based on this type of Water for irrigation.
In order to use saline water to irrigate the plants and trees, the first step is to know the saline concentration in the water so that the plants are classified accordingly, and some of the plant/tree varieties that are tolerant to salinity are as follows:
- Nile Tamarisk (Tarfa)
- Mangrove (Qurm)
- Jujube (Sidr)
- Ghaf (Ghaf)
- Firestick Plant (Kalkal)
- Drumstick Tree (Shu)
- Wild Pistachio (Butum)
- Umbrella Thorn (Samar)
- Tecoma (Farfar)
- Salam (Salam)
- Gum Arabic Tree (Sunt)
- Abal (Abal)
This does not mean that the issue of carrying the plant/tree for salinity alone is sufficient, but that the quality of the soil also has its role, there are some types of soils are unable to tolerate salinity becomes bad and cannot be cultivated in this, which leads to the damage of plants even if they have characteristics that make them from plants tolerant of salinity.
ICBA’s work and successes
Throughout the years, ICBA has been very successful in identifying crops, technologies, and best management practices to improve agricultural, productivity and profitability in saline environments. We have carried a botanical survey to collect and conserve native species especially in the UAE. ICBA is working on several technology developments as well as the use of non-conventional and conventional water (such as treated wastewater, saline, seawater, and industrial water); land and water management technologies; remote sensing and modeling for climate change adaptation. We have worked extensively on identifying and promoting integrated production systems that practice sustainable management of available resources. We focus on community development, whether it is in identifying and encouraging certain crops, or irrigation technologies, or on-farm practices and best drainage system. The local community is a partner and this helps sustain the gains from the improved production systems. Their modern research and training facilities in Dubai include a gene bank of salt-tolerant germplasm with over 13,000 accessions representing over 225 species; laboratories for central analytics; plant genetic resources and agronomy and plant physiology. Thirty-five hectares of the Center’s 100-hectare research and demonstration site has been developed for irrigated agriculture utilizing saline water, seawater or treated wastewater. We have modern greenhouses and a shade house providing climate-controlled conditions for plant experiments and the transfer of plants between environments. Building capacity and sharing knowledge is another important part of our work in the past and something we want to expand in the future as we aim to become a knowledge hub and center of excellence. ICBA has carried extensive training programs on plant production systems in marginal lands, soil and land use management, socio-economic assessments, and water resources management both at its headquarters and in partner countries. ICBA has worked across many countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA); Gulf Cooperation Council countries; Central Asia and the Caucasus; South and South East Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa. In all of their projects, they make sure that national partners are joint owners in the development and use of the research outputs so leading to the adoption of recommendations, analyses and best-management practices for land, soil, and water in marginal environments.