ICARDA works across the Arabian Peninsula to improve date palm, an essential crop for the region, which produces 90 percent of the world’s dates. Funded by the six member countries through the Secretariat General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

The project entitled ‘Development of  sustainable production systems for date palms in the Gulf Cooperation Council countries’ aims to improve date palm production systems in GCC countries, employing modern technology to increase crop management, post-harvest date management, and market and value chain development.

Significant  2021  developments in our work on date palm were:

A major project milestone in 2021 was the introduction of eddy covariance systems for measurements of gas exchange between ecosystems and the atmosphere in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia through the date palm project. These systems combine precision instruments, on-site flux computation, and powerful post-processing software into a single package to deliver ecosystem insights faster than ever before. The systems streamline the research process, empowering researchers of all experience levels. The systems are also linked to ultra-low drip irrigation to facilitate smart and water- and energy-saving irrigation for date palm and associated crops.

Another major aim of ICARDA in the Arabian Peninsula is to improve agricultural production systems and conserve natural resources affected by climate change through the development and demonstration of climate-smart technological packages. In 2021, ICARDA held participatory demonstrations of water- and energy-saving practices for smallholder farmers across six target countries. These practices included the use of solar energy, net houses, hydroponic irrigation, ultra-low-dripper pressure, and root zone cooling. The project is funded by the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development and the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development.

Dr. Abdoul Aziz Niane, ICARDA’s Arabian Peninsula Regional Program Regional Coordinator, was appointed as a member of the Advisory Committee for Research of the Abu Dhabi Food Safety Agency. The Agency is responsible for agriculture, food safety, food security, and biosecurity in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.

An ICARDA project, ‘Development of Date Palm Production Systems in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Countries,’ won the prestigious 2021 Khalifa International Award for Date Palm and Agricultural Innovation. The project, funded by the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf, won in the second category, ‘Pioneering Development and Productive Projects.’