CGIAR EiA Stakeholder Workshop in Cairo: Fostering collaboration for agricultural resilience
ICARDA and the CGIAR Excellence in Agronomy (EiA) initiative convened a gathering of stakeholders on October 3, 2023 in Cairo to address pressing challenges facing smallholder farmers in the Global South—particularly those related to climate change and market volatility. The event centered on prioritizing national adaptation measures in irrigated agriculture, with a particular focus on Egypt’s wheat-based production systems in old lands.
Egyptian agriculture demonstrates the impact of climate stress on dryland food production. The country is experiencing increased heat stress and crop water consumption, rising groundwater and soil salinity, extended extreme events, significant changes in crop life cycles, and shifting planting seasons that significantly affect the crucial agricultural sector. This sector supports 65% of Egypt’s population and contributes 13.5% of its GDP. However, it is highly susceptible to climate impacts, particularly water scarcity, as agriculture already consumes 80% of the country’s freshwater resources. Further, only 2.8% of Egypt’s land is arable limiting any agri-expansion for higher food production. Adaptation strategies—particularly for smallholder farmers—must be integrated into comprehensive agendas to address food insecurity, land fragmentation, soil degradation, and unsustainable practices amid economic pressures, ensuring resilience and long-term peace.
“The current situation requires an integrated and holistic approach to drive adaptation strategies starting from improved varieties, effective water management practices, access to market, access to information through digital platforms, and enabled policy frameworks to help agricultural systems under climate and market crisis.”
- Ajit Govind, Senior Climate Scientist and Systems Modeler, ICARDA
“Many attempts have been undertaken in recent years to create robust adaptation measures to strengthen the resilience of Egypt’s agricultural sector in the face of climate change. However, there is still an urgent need to systematize the findings of these efforts to develop an integrated adaptation strategy and to foster open dialogue among essential stakeholders to address their perceptions and considerations for this plan.”
- Samar Attaher, Research Associate, Agronomist at ICARDA
The workshop fostered collaboration among government bodies, universities, regional organizations, and agribusinesses. Together, these stakeholders prioritized adaptation measures tailored to Egypt’s wheat-based production system. Key measures included the adoption of crop varieties resilient to changing climate conditions, holistic approaches to maximize productivity while minimizing resource inputs through integrated agronomy bundles, and enhancement of water efficiency at the farm level.
“EiA is a global initiative launched by CGIAR in 2020, dedicated to enhancing productivity, resource efficiency, soil health, and climate adaptation in farming systems across the world. EiA’s vision extends to empowering women and young farmers while measurably improving food security, income, resource management, soil health, climate resilience, and climate change mitigation.”
- Mina Devkota, Senior Agronomist at ICARDA
The Stakeholder Consultations Workshop benefited greatly from the introduction of a tool called Prioritizing Agronomy in Changing Environments (PAiCE). Developed by EiA, Australia’s CSIRO, and Cornell University, PAiCE provided a platform for stakeholders to collectively identify and prioritize adaptation options while pinpointing knowledge gaps and areas of uncertainty.
“Collaboration with national partners is a priority for ICARDA to support ongoing efforts to develop and improve sustainable irrigation innovations and solutions that meet the local needs of Egypt’s agricultural systems. These innovations should be integrated with on-farm packages to ensure effective application and enhanced productivity of strategic crops."
-Emad Fawzi, Senior Researcher at Egypt’s National Water Research Center (NWRC)
The meeting showcased the power of collaboration in driving agricultural resilience. By strategically prioritizing adaptation measures and fostering stakeholder engagement, it has set the stage for concrete actions that promise to benefit Egyptian agriculture, promote sustainable practices, and address the challenges a changing climate poses. This collective effort is a strategic step towards securing a more resilient agricultural future for Egypt.