The programme aims to promote technology packages to improve livelihoods of poor farmers and pastoralists in the Arabian Peninsula through the adoption of sustainable production and natural resource management technologies in the limited water resources environment and areas affected by desertification.
The Programme resulted in:
- substantial water conservation and increased fodder production from the adoption of water use-efficient of indigenous forages, particularly Buffel grass;
- reduced use of pesticides; and
- increased yields and income from the adoption of integrated production and protection management (IPPM) practices and hydroponics.
The objective of the programme is to improve the livelihoods of small-scale farmers through the development and adoption of sustainable natural resource management technologies focusing on forage production, rangelands rehabilitation, protected agriculture and related capacity building on water use efficiency.
Three sets of production technologies were developed:
- Improved technologies for open field production of high water use-efficient indigenous forages, such as the native Buffel grass with an average annual water requirement of 15 000 m3 compared to the commonly used Rhodes grass with an average annual water requirement of 35 000 m3 (resulting in an average water conservation of 57%); and
- High-value cash crops in soil and soilless culture-based production technologies under protected agriculture. The second set consist of promising production technologies for the recently introduced spineless cactus, currently in an advanced stage of selection and adaptation trials for use as green fodder and ingredient for quality feed blocks in combination with on-farm and agro-industry by products.
- Improved technology elements for rangelands rehabilitation, is at an early stage of development and assessment at research stations.
An impact assessment carried out in December 2013 revealed that the farmers are satisfied with the technology packages developed on indigenous perennial forages, IPPM and soilless culture. The following average adoption rates were reached on a regional basis: 54% for protected agriculture, 38% for perennial forages, 22% for IPPM and 5% for soilless culture. There was a sevenfold increase in water productivity (48 kg tomatoes/m3 water in soilless culture versus 7kg/m3 in soil-based protected culture in UAE). Due to the adoption of IPPM technology, the use of pesticides was reduced from 40% to 60% in the greenhouses.
The yield of tomatoes increased by 192% in soilless culture compared to soil-based protected culture in UAE. The external evaluation concluded that the APRP research work is of high return and confirmed that both the open system soilless culture as well the closed system with automatic control of nutrients are the way forward for the intensification and diversification of protected agriculture production systems for high return cash crops in the context of an increasing water shortage and salinity in the Arabian Peninsula.
Partners: The overall cost of the Program, on a grant basis over three phases, amounted to USD 10.18 million of which 52% was provided by AFESD, 31% by IFAD, 13% by UAE, and 4% by OFID. The UAE contribution directly covered the cost of rented office facilities and utilities for the Program Regional Coordination Unit in Dubai hosted by the Ministry of Environment and Water.
Country Program Manager
Via Paolo di Dono 44
00142 Rome, Italy
Tel. +39 06 5459 2500
Fax + 39 06 5459 3500