Food production in the Near East and North Africa (NENA) continues to fall behind the region’s rapid population growth, making countries ever-more dependent on food imports and increasingly vulnerable to market and supply shocks. This problem is compounded by rising temperatures and increasing water scarcity – the region is predicted to be one of the worse affected by climate change.
Although ICARDA research demonstrates that solutions are known and available, more investment in agriculture is needed to speed the pace of innovation and more effectively deliver new technologies to farmers.
In recognition of the threats that continue to constrain agricultural production systems, ICARDA recently strengthened its collaboration and partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) through a new agreement that intends to scale-out proven, climate-smart technologies.
The agreement was signed by Dr. Mahmoud Solh, ICARDA’s Director General, and Mr. Abdessalem Ould Ahmed, FAO Assistant Director General and Regional Representative for NENA.
Building on organizational strengths, the agreement has identified a series of potential thematic activities and locations within the framework of FAO’s Regional Water Scarcity Initiative – an effort to support member countries in identifying and streamlining policies and practices in agricultural water management. Activities will focus on irrigated and rain-fed production systems in Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, and Tunisia.
“What we are demonstrating here in the agreement between FAO and ICARDA is that research starts at farmer needs, and the solution ends at farmer fields,” says Dr. Solh. “This agreement is presenting the importance of the linkages between research and development to generate technology and transfer at a scale for sustainable improvement in agriculture, water productivity, and farmer incomes.”
Also speaking at the signing ceremony, Dr. Ould Ahmed of FAO commented: “The region has made significant strides in the last decades in developing its water usage and storage capacities, but there is still much work to be done to improve water efficiency in agriculture, protect water quality, and address challenges related to food security and climate change.”
Moving forward, both organizations committed to a series of meetings to finalize implementation plans.