Water and Food Security in the Arabian Peninsula: Struggling for more actions
Ouled Belgacem, Azaiez
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Food security is a critical issue for the Arabian Peninsula countries due fast population growth, reduced domestic food production and the tighter global food markets because of trading partners‘ strained export surpluses. Water scarcity is a major concern for the AP. The renewable water resources per capita is considered the lowest in the world and has decreased from 1250 m3 in 1950 to 76.2 m3 in 2014. Furthermore, the projected water demand in AP for the year 2025 will exceed the double of the current groundwater availability, estimated at 8030M m3. In response to the alarming water situation, ICARDA in collaboration with the National Agricultural and Extension Systems (NARES) has established a program in AP, which has developed, evaluated, and introduced technology packages that empower growers to produce high-quality crops with less water. These technologies include: 1) the integrated forage production system based on indigenous plant species; 2) the introduction of spineless cactus as animal feed; and 3) protected agriculture with associated developed technologies such as soilless culture (hydroponics). Similarly, ICARDA and NARS works on date palm has resulted in improving water and land productivity for date production. Such water saving technology packages are being transferred to farmers in AP region through ICARDA and National scientists and extension agents. Conclusively, a noticeable impact on the on-farm water management through the increased productivity per unit of water and land created. The demand for more applied research in the region is inevitable to ensure an adequate level of food security based on Climate-smart agriculture practice.