Enhancement of food security in the Arab region
A large-scale regional project is helping to boost food security in wheat-based cropping systems in five countries – Egypt, Morocco, Sudan, Syria and Tunisia. Activities will expand to other countries in West Asia and North Africa in the coming seasons.
The project is supported by the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development, the Islamic Development Bank, and the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development.
The project promotes integrated technology packages that combine improved varieties, crop and resource management, and institution building. Field trials and demonstrations are underway at eight sites representing major agro-ecologies in each country.
In Egypt, project farmers reported excellent results in the 2010/11 season from improved land and water management methods, and new wheat varieties that combine high yield, disease resistance, and grain quality. Wheat yields increased by 25% in El Sharkia Governorate, and 17% in Assiut Governorate, and farmers in El Sharkia used 20% less irrigation water.
In Morocco, improved technologies produced an increase in yield of up to 60% over farmer practices in irrigated wheat, but a smaller increase in yield in rainfed wheat. No-tillage practices that were tested delivered the same yield at less cost.
Similarly, using deficit irrigation and drip irrigation rather than basin or raised-bed irrigation, produced the same yield but used less water. Improved technologies tested in Tunisia gave improved yields over farmer practices of up to 28% under irrigation in the Chebika region, and 17% under rainfed conditions in the Fernana region.
The project also includes a major capacity development component. A Young Agricultural Scientists Program is helping to help build national research capacity. Training courses, workshops, seminars and field days reached 3225 farmers and more than 4900 people in total.