FAO Regional Office for Near East and North Africa

FAO and ICARDA further their collaboration to mitigate water scarcity impacts

The two organizations sign an agreement to accelerate research outputs reaching farmers’ fields.

22 March 2015, Cairo -- Rapid population growth in the Near East and North Africa (NENA) is not being matched by growth in agricultural production, making the region ever-more dependent on food imports and increasingly vulnerable to market and supply shocks. This trend makes it vital to boost investment in agriculture in the region.

Food security in the region is closely linked to high vulnerability to food-related “external shocks”. NENA is exposed to global food price volatility, natural disasters, increasing water scarcity, and conflicts, all of which have direct and indirect impacts on people’s well-being and nutritional status.

Acknowledging the urgency and scale of water issues faced by the region, the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) have today strengthened their collaboration and partnership by signing an agreement aimed at scaling out proven climate smart agriculture field interventions to boost significantly water productivity in irrigated and rain fed agriculture by more that 25 percent.

The agreement was signed by Dr Mahmoud Solh, ICARDA Director General and Mr. Abdessalam Ould Ahmed, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for the NENA.

With water resources declining in the region, it becomes ever more critical to maximize water-use efficiency in agriculture. In order to target interventions effectively, both organizations reflected on organizational strengths and agreed on where and how to best implement ICARDA-FAO collaboration. A number of potential thematic activities and locations emerged from this agreement within the frame work of FAO Regional Water Scarcity Initiative in the NENA; increasing water productivity in rain fed and irrigated agriculture in pilot countries of Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia.

“What we are demonstrating inhere in the agreement between FAO and ICARDA is that the research starts at farmers’ need and the solution ends at farmers’ filed. This agreement is presenting the importance of the linkages between research and development to generate technology transfer at a scale for sustainable improvement in agriculture and water productivity and farmers’ income. We aim at introducing innovative efficient agriculture and water management packages that are not only increase agriculture water productivity, but also farmers’ income” Dr Mahmoud Solh, ICARDA Director General stated.

“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.” said Abdessalam Ould
Ahmed, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for the NENA.

Moving forward, both organizations committed to a series of meetings with other partners counterparts to finalize plans for implementation.

This partnership with ICARDA stems from the MOU signed between FAO and ICARDA within the framework of Dry land Systems Program and FAO Regional Initiatives; Water Scarcity, Sustainable Small-Scale Agriculture and Building Resilience to enhance Food Security and nutrition launched in 2013 to promote cooperation among NENA countries for the sustainable improvement of agricultural productivity in a context of water scarcity, climatic changes and related food security problems.