ICARDA’s Director General, Mr. Aly Abousabaa recently visited Abu Dhabi’s Food Control Authority (ADFCA) to discuss collaborative research activities and on-going efforts to strengthen food and nutrition security in Abu Dhabi and across the Arabian Peninsula.
Mr. Abousabaa briefed Mr. Rashid Khalfan Al Shariqi, ADFCA’s Director General, on the performance of several ICARDA ‘technology packages’ introduced to the Emirate’s farmers. These included: heat-tolerant species of barley that can thrive in extremely high temperatures; spineless cactus – which provide a sustainable source of fodder and a range of agro-industry byproducts; resilient and highly productive breeds of small ruminants; and the use of renewable energy to power protected agriculture.
In addition, improved techniques to raise date palm production and strengthen resilience to the highly destructive red weevil pest were discussed; as were collaborative efforts to expand agricultural extension and the delivery of new technologies and innovations to farmers, including a new SMS-based service to facilitate the flow of technical information. Overall, these achievements were well received and it was agreed that ADFCA would work with ICARDA to develop new proposals for future collaboration.
The September 10 meeting also provided an opportunity for Mr. Al-Shariqi to discuss innovations being implemented by authorities in Abu Dhabi: a specialized center on food security which will be the primary focal point for the planning and management of a national food safety program; and the Abu Dhabi Farmers Services Center which provides extension and marketing services for growers.
The meeting was also attended by Dr. Azaiez Ouled Belgacem, ICARDA’s Regional Coordinator for the Arabian Peninsula Regional Program (APRP), ICARDA date palm specialist Dr. Mohamed Ben Salah, and senior managers from ADFCA and the Abu Dhabi Farmers Services Center (ADFSC).