WASAG – The Global Framework on Water Scarcity in Agriculture

Consultative workshop on AWSAMe initiative: Addressing water scarcity through indigenous drought-resilient crops

Date: 20 – 21 February 2024 , University Mohammed VI Polytechnique (UM6P), Ben Guerir, Morocco 


The escalating impacts of climate change, including water scarcity, pose a critical threat to global agricultural sustainability. As part of the initiatives aimed at addressing this challenge, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has developed the Value Adding Impact Area (VAIA) “Addressing Water Scarcity in Agriculture and the Environment” (AWSAMe). AWSAMe is specifically supporting one of the four betters of the FAO strategic framework for 2022–2031, namely “Better Environment”.

One of the objectives of AWSAMe is to enhance agricultural productivity by promoting crops that are drought-resilient, nutritious and with the potential to improve biodiversity. In this regard, AWSAMe is collaborating with the Centre for International Cooperation in Agricultural Research for Development (Centre de coopération internationale en recherche agronomique pour le développement, CIRAD) for the development of four global project proposals for the wider adoption of such crops.

As a first step, a comprehensive compendium has been prepared and was presented to stakeholders during a webinar which took place on 18 July 2023, highlighting crops that are not only drought-tolerant, but also the ones that have high nutritional value.

AWSAMe is seeking to establish synergies with other initiatives for greater impacts. Through a systematic matchmaking process, crops from the following initiatives have been considered:  

  • The One Crop One Priority Product (OCOP) initiative; 
  • The Vision for Adapted Crops and Soils (VACS); 
  • The International Year of Millets (IYM); and 
  • The RAF compendium on indigenous crops. 

Focus on indigenous orphan or forgotten crops

This component of the AWSAMe initiative focuses on indigenous also called orphan or forgotten crops which drought are resilient (to cope with water scarcity) but which are also nutritious and with the potential to improve biodiversity above and below surface. An integrated approach will therefore be advocated:

  1. For promoting such crops, including through the adoption of agronomic practices that increase this triple benefit (drought resilience, nutrition and biodiversity)  
  2. For exploring the opportunities for developing their value chains, from field to fork to maximise the socioeconomic benefits ensuing from their production, transformation, commercialization and consumption. 


The primary objectives of the workshop are:  

  1. To present promising drought-resilient and nutritious crops with the potential for improved biodiversity and discuss with all participants their opportunity for their wider adoption for mitigating the impact of droughts and climate change.
  2. To discuss a first pilot phase with identified crops and three pilot countries, namely Cabo Verde, Malawi, Morocco and South Sudan.  
  3. To agree on crops and countries across all FAO regions (RAF, RAP, REU, RLC, and RNE) to be included in the four global project proposals.  
  4. To engage with all participants to receive inputs on the way forward in order to ensure maximum ownership by all for a greater impact. 

Note: the selection of the three countries for the pilot phase is motivated by the opportunity to establish immediate synergies with most of the above initiatives. 


The workshop will use the following methodology: 

  1. Engaging the stakeholders by bringing together experts, policymakers, practitioners and partners to discuss the opportunity to promote indigenous drought-resilient crops in mitigating the impact of drought and climate change on food security, nutrition and biodiversity.
  2. Presenting the compendium of indigenous drought resilient and nutritious crops with the potential to improve biodiversity and identify those that are suitable for greater adoption in different regions and countries. The workshop will discuss their suitability for local diets and the socio-economic potential of their value chains.
  3. Collecting the inputs from countries from all FAO regions (RAF, RAP, REU, RLC, and RNE) in addition to the three targeted countries in the pilot phase, to decide on the selection of crops and countries for the AWSAMe initiative.
  4. Soliciting feedback from partners who could be interested in the AWSAMe initiative to receive their guidance, including on how to best facilitate their involvement and support. 

Expected Outputs

  1. Draft project document on the pilot phase: the workshop will provide inputs into the proposed activities  in the following four countries: Cabo Verde, Malawi, Morocco and South Sudan resulting in a draft project document to be finalized for implementation in 2024–2025.
  2. Draft agreement of the content of the four global projects:  the workshop will provide inputs from all the participants to agree on the content of the four global project proposals with regard to pairing countries from different regions to collaborate on the promotion of selected crops. 
  3. Road map of AWSAMe initiative on indigenous drought resilient nutritious crops with potential for improved biodiversity: the workshop will agree on the finalization of the pilot project document, on its implementation, and on the development of the four global project proposals and approach for their funding. 


Day 1

8:30–9:00 – Welcome Coffee 

9:00–10:30 – Opening Ceremony

  • Welcome remarks and Introduction (Host University and Organizers) 
  • Overview of the AWSAMe initiative with focus on the compendium of drought resilient and nutritious crops
  • Objectives of the workshop

                      Status and implementation of AWSAMe: 

  • Keynote presentation 

10:30–11:00 – Coffee break 

11:00–12:30 – Country and crop selection consultation for Phase 1 – Pilot

  • Presentation of proposed countries (Cabo Verde, Malawi, Morocco and South Sudan) and crops 
  • Discussion 
  • Feedback from Partners 

12:30–14:00  Lunch break 

14:00–14:30  Recap from the morning 

14:30–16:00 – Consultation Session 1 (RAF, REU, RLC, RNE, North America)  towards Phase 2   

  • Facilitated discussion  
  • Open discussion on proposed crops and countries
  • Summary of the consultation session

16:00–16:30  Feedback from Partners  

16:30–18:00  Networking

19:30–21:00 – Reception 

Day 2

8:30–9:00 – Welcome coffee 

9:00–10:30  Consultation Session 2 (RAF, RAP, REU, RNE) 

10:30–12:00  Next steps and way forward 

  • Summary of the consultation session
  • Feedback from partners  
  • Discuss the way forward for the phase 1 pilot and for phase 2 of AWSAMe 

12:30–14:00  Closing Remarks 

12:30–14:00  Lunch break 

14:0018:00  Field Trip  

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