x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

$6m Dubai-based project to help poor farmers

Food experts are offering livestock and crops to enable poor people to be self-sufficient on their own land.

ABU DHABI // Food experts are looking to improve the lot of the world's poor by offering them livestock and crops that will enable them to be self-sufficient on their own land.

A $6million (Dh22m) project headed by the International Centre for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA) in Dubai is intended to reverse the damage done by poor management of resources, and climate change.

While several factors have contributed to soaring food costs, the degree to which extreme weather has hit agricultural production has become an increasingly clear warning sign.

Weather patterns have changed considerably in the past 20 years, according to Dr Abdullah Dakheel, a project coordinator at ICBA.

Prices are set to climb still higher, as the combination of severe droughts in Russia and Syria last year, heavy rains in Pakistan, flooding in Australia and dry weather in Argentina, mixed with a likely increase in demand after the recent unrest in North Africa, make themselves felt.

The problem of climate change, Dr Dakheel says, is exacerbated by farmers in areas with scarce resources using them as though there were plenty.

"In dealing with changing weather patterns, a key impact is in arid environments," he said.

ICBA has partnered with the International Fund for Agricultural Development, the Arab fund for economic and social development and the Opec fund to develop self-sustainable farming systems in areas plagued by high temperatures, low soil quality and little water.