Sustainable, Climate‐smart Agriculture in Marginal Environments

January 23, 2020 | 13:30 h - 14:30 h

Public lecture by Dr. Ismahane Elouafi (Director General of the International Center for Biosaline Agriculture)

Today the world is in the midst of a climate emergency. Many sectors, including agriculture, are being affected.Recent studies raise the alarm about future and in some cases current declines in yields of staple crops. Global food production is also undermined by salinization and water scarcity. Data shows that every day since the early 1990s, an average of 2,000 hectares of irrigated land in arid and semi-arid areas in 75 countries had been degraded by salt. This situation is worsened by water scarcity. About 4 billion people already experience severe water scarcity during at least one month of year and 700 million people worldwide might be displaced by intense water scarcity by 2030.

Populations in marginal environments already suffer from poverty and hunger and as most of them make their living by farming, they will bear the brunt of climate change effects on agriculture and water availability. In view of these worrying figures, it is more important than ever before to enhance productivity and utility of lands and water resources degraded by salinization and other factors to meet future food demand. Decades of research show that saline water resources, as well as other types of non-fresh water, can be efficiently used for food, feed and biofuel production. It is also crucially important to tap into the potential of agrobiodiversity. Of some 30,000 plants known to be edible, only about 150 are cultivated worldwide on a significant scale.

Scientists around the world, including researchers at ICBA, have done a great deal of work to study ways to improve agricultural production and ecosystem resilience on salt-affected lands and in other degraded environments through cultivation of underutilized species and use of innovative technologies. In particular there has been considerable research on cultivation and use of halophytes for different purposes, including food.

Alternative approaches and technologies are needed to ensure food, water and income security in marginal environments under changing climatic conditions. And biosaline agriculture holds considerable promise for helping to achieve this goal.

About the speaker:

Ismahane Elouafi is Director General of the International Center for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA). Ranked among the 20 most influential women in science in the Islamic world, she is internationally known for her work on promoting neglected and underutilized crops, use of non-fresh water in agriculture, and empowerment of women in science. She has nearly two decades of experience in agricultural research and development in Asia, Africa and the Middle East. She has been leading ICBA, based in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, since 2012. (Source: Wikipedia)



Dennis Lucy Avilés Irahola

Dr. Dennis Lucy Avilés Irahola