UAE-The International Center for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA) recently hosted a ceremony to inaugurate a Millet Demo Farm, aligning with the objectives of the International Year of Millets and COP28 on climate action, sustainable agriculture, food security, and nutrition.

Established in collaboration with the SELCO Foundation, the Millet Demo Farm aims to showcase the complete value chain of millets, from seed production to consumption. The initiative seeks to raise awareness about the benefits of millets in adapting to climate change in agriculture.

Dr. Tarifa Alzaabi, Director General of ICBA, emphasized the importance of embracing neglected and underutilized crops like millets in building sustainable and resilient agrifood systems. 

Not only are they climate-smart but are also nutrient-dense. So, millets can be a powerful tool in our efforts to adapt agrifood systems to climate change and improve food security and nutrition. But this requires that we conduct applied research studies and scale up innovations to achieve a lasting impact, she stated. 

Ms. Nirmita Chandrashekar, Senior Program Manager at SELCO Foundation, highlighted the need for decentralized and sustainable clean energy-driven processing at the farm gate for smallholding farmers in the entire MENA region. 

She expressed readiness to transfer knowledge in collaboration with ICBA to all countries where ICBA operates.

The event, attended by over 40 delegates, featured statements from key figures including H.E. Eng. Mohammed Mousa Alameeri, Assistant Undersecretary for the Food Diversity Sector at the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment of the UAE; H.E. Dr. Abdulhakim Elwaer, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for the Near East and North Africa; and H.E. Eng. Mohammad Jamal Alsaati, Special Advisor to the President of the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB).

Participants, including CEOs of private companies and senior government officials from various countries, were briefed on ongoing millet trials at ICBA’s research station and witnessed demonstrations of post-harvest processing machines. The event also featured a tasting session of a variety of millet-based dishes.

The millets and technologies presented at the Millet Demo Farm are the outcome of ICBA’s extensive research and collaboration with partners, including the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the SELCO Foundation. 

The initiative aims to promote millet production and consumption in the Middle East North Africa and other regions through technology transfer and capacity development.

ICBA has been a pioneer in the research and development of climate-resilient and nutritious crops suitable for arid and salt-affected environments for over two decades. The center operates a unique gene bank with over 16,000 accessions of around 300 stress-resistant plant species, including millets, from more than 150 countries and territories. 

The distribution of millet germplasm to partners in 29 countries and studies on millet cultivation in various nations underscores ICBA’s commitment to advancing sustainable agriculture globally.

For all the latest grains industry news from Africa, the Middle East, and the World, subscribe to our weekly NEWSLETTERS, follow us on LinkedIn, and subscribe to our YouTube channel.