ICARDA’s Director General, Dr Mahmoud Solh, attended the Executive Committee Meeting of AARINENA (Association of Agricultural Research Institutions in the Near East and North Africa) in Kuwait City, 12-13 September 2011. The Executive Committee discussed the AARINENA workplan for 2011-2012, the GCARD (Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development) road map, and the program for the 12th AARINENA General Conference. The workplan is based on the outputs of the AARINENA “retreat”, hosted by ICARDA in November 2010, and on the post-GCARD road map developed by the Global Forum for Agricultural Research (see http://www.egfar.org/egfar/website/gcard). It was also proposed that AARINENA focus on common challenges in the region, such as water scarcity.
The Committee also discussed the program for the International conference on adaptation to climate change in agriculture in West Asia and North Africa, to be held on 13-16 November 2011, co-sponsored by AARINENA and ICARDA, in collaboration with the World Meteorological Organization and other partners.
The Director General, Dr Mahmoud Solh, and ICARDA’s Board Chair, Mr Henri Carsalade, attended the meeting of the Consortium Board and Members, 5-7 September, hosted by CIAT in Cali, Colombia.
The discussions covered a number of issues including the proposed CGIAR Intellectual Assets Policy; genetic resources conservation and funding of the Centers’ genebanks; the CGIAR Research Programs (CRPs); the proposed CGIAR Evaluation Policy; and financing and resource mobilization. The Consortium Board Chair and CEO outlined the achievements of the past year. The Strategy and Results Framework (SRF) has been approved; the Consortium Board has approved all CRPs and expects to have the entire portfolio approved by the Fund Council before the end of 2011. Stability funding for the transition year of 2011 has been approved; and the International Organization status of the Consortium will be formalized with an agreement to signed at the G-20 meetings in Montpellier, France.
In November 2009 ICARDA began a collaborative program with Impulsora Agrícola S.A. (IASA) in Mexico, to produce new barley varieties and elite germplasm adapted to that country, with international public goods spill-over to similar environments in other developing countries. The germplasm identified in Mexico is resistant to multiple diseases and has high yield potential. Malting quality will be a value-added trait. This effort is headed by ICARDA’s barley section coordinator, Dr Flavio Capettini.
In September 2011, during the selection season, the fields were visited by Dr Ramesh Verma, Barley Research Coordinator, Indian Council of Agricultural Research; and Dr Maarten van Ginkel, Deputy Director General – Research, ICARDA. Dr Verma was able to select germplasm with favorable characteristics for his country that will be made available to all the Indian programs. With the assistance of the visitors it was possible to identify candidate varieties that will hopefully make a positive impact on barley growers in Mexico and in other countries with similar high rainfall and irrigated conditions, allowing the expression of barley’s yield and quality potential.
Sixty participants representing the National Center for Agricultural Research and Extension (NCARE), the Ministry of Agriculture, Faculties of Agriculture at universities, Ministry of Water and Irrigation, Higher Council of Science and Technology and the private sector of Jordan, as well as ten scientists from ICARDA participated in the 15th Jordan-ICARDA Biennial Coordination Meeting in NCARE in Baqa, Jordan in 12-13 September 2011. The meeting was inaugurated by Dr Faisal Awawdeh, Director General of NCARE.
Four new projects, initiated jointly with Jordan, have been recently approved by key donors: the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development (AFESD), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Islamic Development Bank, Kuwait Fund and the OPEC Fund for International Development. The meeting reviewed the progress of two of these projects – Barley/livestock and climate change for Iraq and Jordan and Improved water management for sustainable mountain agriculture: Jordan, Lebanon and Morocco, which started a few months earlier. Participants also discussed the other two approved joint projects – Enhancing food security in Arab countries and Enhancing dairy processing skills and market access of rural women in Syria and Jordan for future planning. The meeting developed workplans for the new projects, identified priority areas for the development of more new research proposals, and identified technical backstopping and training needs.
A meeting was organized in the ICARDA-Amman Office with the coordinators of the ICARDA projects implemented in Palestine. The aim of the meeting was to review progress and results of activities implemented during the 2010/11 season and develop research workplans based on the overall three-year framework developed at the project’s inception. Workplans for the 2011/12 season were agreed upon for three projects: Conservation of wheat and barley landraces (supported byAFESD), safe use of treated wastewater and greywater in agriculture, integrated production and protection management in protected agriculture, and productivity improvement of rainfedcrops, supported by the Netherlands government.
The meeting was attended by Dr Mohammed Abu Eid , Director General of Palestine’s National Agricultural Research Center (NARC), project coordinators and other partners. They discussed results from five projects funded by the Government of the Netherlands and the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development (AFESD): on seed systems, conservation of landraces, productivity of rainfed farming systems, use of treated wastewater, and protected agriculture.
Following Dr Eddy De Pauw’s retirement from the Center, in September 2011, Dr Wolfgang Goebel was appointed acting Head of the Geographic Information Systems Unit (GISU).
The Director General, Dr Mahmoud Solh extends his thanks to Dr Eddy De Pauw for leading GISU over the past six years, and for the total of 15 years that he worked at ICARDA. During that period, Dr De Pauw succeeded in expanding the staffing and the status of the GISU. It is presently one of the most effective GIS research units in the CGIAR. Fortunately for ICARDA, Eddy has kindly agreed to continue his services to ICARDA through a part time assignment for six months a year, as a consultant.
Dr Solh welcomes Dr Goebel to ICARDA and wishes him much success in this position, encouraging all colleagues to work with him and GISU in making GIS and remote sensing tools even more effective in ICARDA’s research and that of NARS.
Rangeland and Forages Scientist, Dr. Azaiez Ouled Belgacem joins ICARDA Arabian Peninsula Regional ProgramSeptember 30, 2011 at 7:36 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
Dr Azaiez Ouled Belgacem has joined the ICARDA’s Arabian Peninsula Regional Program – based in Dubai- as Rangeland and Forage Scientist. Dr Ouled Belgacem has a PhD in Rangeland Ecology and Management and two Masters degrees, one in Ecology from the University of Sfax, Republic of Tunisia, and another in Natural Renewable Resources from the Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Chania, Greece.
Dr Belgacem has twenty years’ experience in the area of rangelands, forage and animal production. He has occupied a number of international and academic positions, including Head of the Rangeland Program and Director of Plant Resources at the Arab Center for the Studies in Arid Zones and Dry Lands (ACSAD), Damascus. He also worked as the Head of the Rangeland Department in the Institute of Arid Areas, Tunisia. Dr Belgacem has published more than 60 scientific articles and edited five books on rangelands, desertification, biodiversity and utilization of natural plants.
In Egypt, H.E. Salah Yousef Farag, Minister of Agriculture and Land Reclamation, met with an ICARDA delegation – led by Dr Mahmoud Solh, Director General – to discuss the strategic partnership between Egypt and ICARDA in areas of mutual interest. They also discussed new initiatives to be funded by the Australian Government and implemented jointly by Egypt’s Agricultural Research Center and ICARDA to enhance water productivity and on-farm water-use efficiency.
The meeting also reviewed highlights of the results from the first season of the regional Food Security Project. Project farmers in Al Sharqieh province in the Nile Delta, reported 18-25% higher yields, up to 30% saving of irrigation water, and significantly lower seed requirements, making the “Egypt-ICARDA partnership a model for research collaboration, delivering consistent results over a long period”, according to H.E. the Minister. The Food Security Project is financially supported by the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development (AFESD), the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development (KFAED) and the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB).
Sudan’s top agricultural policy makers reiterated their support for collaborative research between the national Agricultural Research Corporation (ARC) and ICARDA. H.E. DrDrAbdal-Haleem Al-Muta’afi, Minister of Agriculture; H.E. Dr Mohamed Ali ElhagAloba, State Minister of Agriculture; and Prof. Ahmed Ali Ahmed Geneif, former Minister of Agriculture and Chief Advisor- Agricultural Revival Authority, hosted meetings with an ARC-ICARDA delegation in September. The delegation included DrEltahirSiddique Ali, ARC Director General; DrKamel Shideed, ICARDA ADG-ICC; and Dr Hassan El-Awad, head of ICARDA’s Sudan office.
“Rainfed agriculture is the backbone of our economy,” Dr Al-Muta’afi said, noting that ARC-ICARDA technologies would be crucial for ensuring food security in Sudan. All three policy makers vouched full government support for the regional food security project targeting Sudan, Egypt, Morocco, Syria and Tunisia.
Sudan has recently ratified the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA), and is developing national legislation to facilitate implementation of the treaty in Sudan. The government has established a Food Security Unit and ICARDA will work closely with that Unit. Dr Mohamed Ali ElhagAloba said that research collaboration could be scaled up in several areas including agro-ecological characterization, irrigation systems, salinity management and rainwater harvesting.
Prof. Geneif noted that considerable progress had been made in designing and implementing projects identified by a Sudanese team that visited ICARDA headquarters in May 2010.
The ICARDA team also met with staff from the Authority of Merowi Dam Area for Agricultural Development, to discuss the development of a new partnership framework. This will cover a range of collaborative activities including socio-economic surveys, upgrading of laboratory facilities, wheat improvement, seed production and capacity development.
Policy makers in Uzbekistan expressed support for an expansion of research partnerships with ICARDA. Dr Amir Amanaf, First Deputy, Director General of Uzbek Scientific Production Center for Agriculture, met with an ICARDA delegation last month to identify areas for collaboration. The delegation included DrKamel Shideed, ADG-ICC; Dr Josef Turok, Coordinator, CAC Regional Program; and Dr Zakir Khalikulov, Deputy Regional Coordinator. On-going collaborative projects cover a range of areas. A new thrust area is the development of heat- and drought-tolerant durum wheat (in addition to on-going work on bread wheat). The meeting also discussed the highly successful Egypt-ICARDA collaborative wheat program, which could provide a model for similar efforts in Uzbekistan. A joint Uzbekistan-ICARDA team will now develop a research program to expand durum wheat production in Uzbekistan.