Arab Today, arab today icba to cultivate abandoned saline farms
Last Updated : GMT 20:45:53
Arab Today, arab today
Arab Today, arab today

ICBA to cultivate abandoned saline farms

Arab Today, arab today

Arab Today, arab today ICBA to cultivate abandoned saline farms

Abu Dhabi - WAM

The International Centre for Biosaline Agriculture in Dubai plans to rehabilitate the farms, on which the soil has been rendered all but infertile by salty ground water.There are around 24,000 farms in Abu Dhabi and the Western Region,\" said Dr Shoaib Ismail, a saline crop expert at the centre. \"Of those, about 8,000 are abandoned or near abandonment just in the Western Region and in Al Ain. In the Northern Emirates, there are a bit less.\" If farms are not cultivated for a long time they are abandoned. Now the centre wants to grow crops that are more tolerant of salty conditions, while being environmentally and economically sound.\"We are trying to make farms as productive as possible and reclaim the farms to grow vegetables,\" he said. \"It\'s about testing alternative production systems and how we can substitute those systems that use a lot of water and high-quality water.\" \"We\'re emphasising animal feed now but eventually, if you start cultivating then you can bring vegetables and that\'s our second step in two to three years,\" Dr Ismail said.The centre has had considerable success with trials of quinoa, a high-protein grain, and has started similar work in Qatar.The systems being installed by the centre use up to a quarter less water than traditional methods.Three farms have been turned around and will be demonstration properties for the new crops. But restoring all of the abandoned farms will take years and much funding, the Nationaly daily reported today.\"It\'s very hard to restore them to their original state,\" said Dr Khalil Ammar, a hydrogeology scientist at the centre. \"Most of these farms have very saline soil so they could use hydroponics. If the water is poor but the soil is good, the best option is to look for desalination

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