First summary from the West Asia and North Africa regional e-consultation

Yesterday, the West Asia and North Africa region completed the the first phase (Introductions and sharing of information related to our work) of this e-conference.  Dr. Mohammad Majdalawi, E-consultation Coordinator from
AARINENA summarizes the online interaction:

It was fruitful discussions and good comments which reflect the strong qualifications and experiences from different organizations, research institutions, universities, NGOs and private sector in different countries. We would like to invite more participants to join the e-consultation process so that we are able to further focus on the important issues in agricultural research that will lead to meeting the objectives of agricultural development in the WANA region.

Summary of the main issues of e-consultation of the first week as follows:

  • The consultation started on Wednesday 2 September, there are 115 participnats who joined the group up to date.
  • We have received contributions from 52 participants from: Bahrain, Cyprus, Egypt, Iran, Jordan, Morocco, Oman, Pakistan, Palestine, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey, Yemen and United Arab of Emirates. We thank everyone for his contribution and valuable time for these consultations and encourage the participation from other countries in the region like: Lebanon, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

Field of specialists

  • Livestock and animal breeding.
  • Plant Protection (Integrated Pest Management, Pesticides, Cereal Rusts resistance and management).
  • Field Crops, Agronomist, Crop Physiologist, Vegetable and Ornamental Plants.
  • Plant breeding.
  • Microbiology.
  • Resource and Agricultural Economics.
  • Soil, Irrigation, Water Management and Environment.
  • Land use management (GIS. RS).
  • Extension
  • Geo-informatics.
  • Computer Science and Information and Communication Technologies.

Main issues of discussion

  • Definition of the Innovation: It was a varying opinions  in definition of the invitation, from all of different opinion we could define the invitation in Agriculture as: it is the events/ experiments/ investigations as the successful implementation of creative ideas in the different fields of Agriculture (agronomy, animal production, plant protection …etc) to do something or solve problem related to the agriculture that have allowed the sector to increase both the quantity and quality of products available to consumers, while freeing up labour, land and other resources for use elsewhere in the economy. The capacity to innovate goes well beyond the discovery of new knowledge and the ability of entrepreneurs to take an idea to market.  A successful innovation should be appropriate, sustainable, cost-effective, and more importantly acceptable by the end user (farmers, stakeholders). “
  • Information Technology: Dr. Ebrahim Abdulqader discussed the application of regional management of fisheries status which requires online reports depended on the data to be collected by a continuous monitoring program. Internet can provide the base for an electronic program which will utilize data and will provide online management reports. He mentioned that GCC countries had started this system but unfortunately due to several reasons data provided was very small to test the importance of the program.
  • Satellite Remote Sensing data: Agricultural Initiated RS/GIS applications in the sector of agriculture and natural resources has been highlighted  by  Dr. Rakhshan Roohi, he reflected the experiment of Pakistan. Based on satellite data it has been defined the major landuse / landcover classes for national landuse plan besides several thematic layers related to agriculture, natural resources, infrastructure, population, etc. The information generated is highly useful for research organizations, relevant ministries and educational institutions. The information has not only being used by these institutions at national scale but are also used and referred by international institutions.
  • Using new Technology: Dr. Mohamed Sallam highlighted four main areas of innovation: The development of local seed systems through revitalizing or re-activating the traditional practices in a participatory approach, the breaking of the missing link in technology integration and dissemination through a mechanism of collaborative interactions between the various stakeholders, the use of marketing information system and the experience of linking small scale farmers to the market in seed production.
    Dr. Safwat discussed agriculture in the WANA region and what has worked in the agricultural innovation. His opinion that the science and technology have worked but organizations and structures of various partners in the region are on different levels of development and facing many problems.
  • Water Resources and management: The issue of water has been discussed by different experts. This reflects the importance of water issue in the region. Mr Abid Shohab Ahmed emphasized the importance of drip/sprinkle irrigation which has really did wonders in barren deserts of GCC and in the longer run it will have its impact on climate change.
    While Dr. Abu Sahban talked about  conducted a study to investigate the impact of the availability and use of water resources on the living standard of rural families. Additional concern of the study is to investigate the socioeconomic feasibility of using treated wastewater in irrigated agriculture. |
    Mr. Mohammed Ayesh focused on a project in helping local community to utilize grey water for home garden irrigation.
    Dr. Majdalawi highlighted on his experience in the problem of water he talked about the application of a project on the regional level of Arab countries to increase the water awareness by exchange the experience and information between different countries. He emphasized the efforts at national level still need more cooperation, coordination and collaboration between countries as well as international organization.
    Dr. Esmat Al-Karadsheh highlighted the issue of improving Rural Livelihood through Sustainable Water and Land Use Management in ME Countries, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria and Yemen” and “Community Based approach for reuse of grey water in home gardening” Projects.
  • Land use and soil fertility: Dr. Mussaddak Janat talked about the experiments of National program for P and N fertilization of cotton grown under conventional surface irrigation and drip fertigation, quantification of biological nitrogen fixation by soybean and groundnuts using 15N dilution method, introduction of drip irrigation on cotton, sugarbeet, soybean, watermelon and potato and reclamation of salt affected soils and rehabilitation of waste lands.
  • Plant production: Different issues have been discussed in this field. Dr. Mohamed Abd Elfattah highlighted using marketing lefacutting bee hives as a crop pollinator for increasing seed production of alfalfa especially in the newly reclaimed areas in Egypt. Unfortunately, he didn’t get any support from any foundation for spreading such work.
    Dr. Muhammad Mansoor highlighted his experience of evolving complete package of production for mungbean (i.e. Planting density, rahizobium strain for effective nodule formation and nitrogen fixation, weed management through allelochemicals, fertilizer management) under agro-climatic conditions of Dera Ismail Khan (NWFP), Pakistan.
  • Plant Protection: The issue of integrated pest management highlighted by Dr. Iftikhar Ahmad and viewed the developing approaches and strategies for field implementation of integrated pest management particularly for the small scale farmers.
    Dr. Qubbaj talked about his interest toward Cycle-oriented agriculture (utilizing of crop residues in agriculture), New crops and Technology (Marketable crops, high value crops and cultivars testing and evaluation screening of plant resistant against pest).
  • Livestock and Animal breeding: Dr. Salah Galal highlighted the issue of Animal Production and breeding in some areas in Egypt and mentioned results of the running a crossbreeding trial with Finnsheep.
  • Empower the women in the rural area: Women’s economic, social empowerments and achieving strong contribution of women in sustainable development were highlighted by Mr. Nabeel Abu-Shriha.
  • Food safety and security: Dr. Hussein Mansour talked about his involvement in Establishing the Food Safety Agency of Egypt (FSA) with the Mission “an open and independent authority to protect consumers health” by ensuring that food produced, processed, distributed, marketed, and consumed in Egypt meets the highest standards of food safety and hygiene”.
  • Technical and Institutional Cooperation: Mr. Atieh el Hindi discussed two successive projects were implemented benefiting from the technical assistance provided by the FAO of the United Nations: the first one is Assistance in Institutional Strengthening and Agricultural Policy and the second one is Assistance for Capacity Building through Enhancing Operation of the National Agricultural Policy Center.
  • Priorities and Researchable Issues: Dr. Saleem K Nadaf, highlighted some important researchable issues of WANA region as: Crops of Food Security/ Water Stress with focusing on Oman experience in planting wheat, barley, chickpea and alfalfa. Another key issue is Use of Indigenous Rangeland Grass Species (Conservation of natural resources) he discussed an experience under ICARDA-APRP, of linking research in collection and conservation, and seed production of less water-requiring indigenous productive rangeland species. The third researchable issue is Soil and Water Salinity by consciously seeking the crops that tolerate rather than trying to change the situation, which is never or difficult to happen.
    Mr. George Adamides from Cyprus identified the following regional research priorities for his country: climate changes, water shortages, integrated crop management, dissemination of research results, training,  ICT applications and Robotics in agriculture, networking and rural development.
    Mr. Mohamed El-Kholy emphasized issues are paramount importance in reshaping agriculture research, these are: participatory research is essential for identifying farmers’ real needs and to facilitate the application of research findings, innovative approach in marketing small farmers produces, the extreme water scarcity in the WANA region and other regions of the world to exploit new water resources and improve techniques to utilize poor quality water and finally mitigating impacts of global warming and climate change especially on olives.
  • General opinion: Dr. Zeynel Cebeci suggested that we can focus some topics if we stratify the subjects more precisely in our forthcoming discussion messages. For example precision farming, ubiquitous computing applications, organic farming, communication and development in rural life, mobile applications, GIS, GPS, e-learning, e-government for agriculture, organizational matters etc.
    Dr. Usama M. El-Saied emphasized to give the priority to what really people need but not what we may think that they need and to concentrate on the good use of the available resources.
    Dr. Roozitalab discussed many important issues in agricultural research and development; he highlighted the importance of partnership among various stakeholders and the lack effective and efficient extension service or technology transfer system in many countries in the WANA region. He also talked about the research agenda, investment in research facilities and infrastructure, the lack of strategic research plan and the natural resources management (soil, water, biodiversity, range and forest).
    Dr. Nasri Hadad discussed the issues of the agriculture as the main tool to alleviate poverty and improve livelihood of the rural poor and also discussed the issues of research on Agricultural and natural resources management problems. He highlighted the issues of water scarcity, severe drought, land degradation and desertification, low crop productivity and increasing yield gap, which all contribute to the modest effect of the agriculture sector in the overall development. He emphasized that the region needs combining both the conventional research approach with advanced tools and the weak linkage between research and extension/knowledge dissemination system is the area that need to be addressed to make research more effective and yields the anticipated impact. From his experience our region needs on-farm water management, sustainable crop improvement, to adopt new tools for research such as biotechnology for the genetic improvement to address the difficult problems that is facing plants and animals and research is needed on crop diversification and sustainable intensification of the production system.
    Dr. Mohammed El Mourid fully agreed with Dr. Nassri comments. He added that the investment in research is far below the recommendations of the International organizations this area where all the countries should make efforts in order to bridge the technology gap. He emphasized to review the whole approach to agricultural productivity and go back to integrating biological systems to conserve resources for the future generation while enjoying health food.

From the above, one can clearly see a number of important issues have been highlighted so far during the first week of e-consultation. We are certain that several other issues will be raised. In the now starting second phase of the consultation we hope to gather input on the Research Review.

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