Middle East

Towards multi-sectoral thinking in desert agriculture

Dr. Sa’d Shannk
Special to Times Kuwait

The development of the agricultural sector is essential for any country for several reasons, including food security, reduced urbanization and environmental protection. Diversifying the non-resource sector is especially important for economies that rely on natural resources (such as oil and gas), including the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, to maintain long-term sustainable development.

Unlike other countries, agriculture in desert climate regions, coupled with very limited arable land area, has harsh climatic conditions (very high daytime and solar radiation, sharp nighttime temperature drops, etc. And coexists with very low annual rainfall). This makes it very difficult to grow crops without the great support of the government. The abundant oil and its exports have brought significant income to GCC countries and have greatly contributed to the development process of all sectors of the economy.

However, the volatile nature of the oil price environment, coupled with the restructuring of the world economy after COVID-19 and the war in Ukraine, which is now the world’s fifth largest exporter of wheat, all poses a challenge to oil exports. I am producing. Economy. These countries are looking for alternative sources while at the same time increasing their foreign exchange reserves.

These reasons, coupled with domestic energy price reforms, will make it difficult to support the development of agriculture. Against this background, assessing the impact of rising energy prices on the agricultural sector as one of the policy options for sustaining the agricultural sector is an important issue. This will help policy makers implement better plans for energy price reform and the development of the agricultural sector.

Water energy demand management using price indicators such as electricity prices should be an essential policy in the agricultural sector as it supports significant changes in resource use and distribution. It is very reasonable and wise to gradually remove energy incentives by gradually setting higher electricity prices. This policy will enable a smooth transition with minimal disruption and give the agricultural sector time to absorb the new changes associated with higher electricity prices.

Reforming electricity prices in this sector will generate additional income for the government. These additional resources can be allocated to support technical programs to strengthen the government’s financial position, improve socio-economic conditions and facilitate energy transformation. For example, solar energy is one of the promising energy alternatives in most GCC countries given the geographic location and solar radiation that the region receives. It is beneficial and appropriate to support and fund technological developments in this area with the additional income from the phasing out of electricity subsidies.

High incentive electricity prices can promote widespread use of groundwater, generate additional electricity, and thus result in more carbon emissions. Therefore, removing power incentives can protect these natural resources, reduce carbon dioxide emissions, and achieve one of the strategic goals of a resilient and sustainable economy. On the other hand, electricity prices in the agricultural sector need to be carefully designed, taking into account the sensitivity of the sector and the vulnerability of harsh climatic conditions.

In addition, the positive environmental consequences of removing energy incentives can outweigh the depressing impacts on the agricultural sector. As electricity prices go up, so will the import of crops. Rising import costs can outweigh the rise in electricity revenues, which encourages farmers to use resources more sustainably and direct their agricultural activities to places where they have a sustainable competitive advantage. .. Therefore, farmers can increase the efficiency of agricultural production input management and reduce waste. It also helps to achieve nationally and internationally committed environmental mitigation goals.

These, and other alternative approaches such as crop mixing and pattern planning, should provide useful local knowledge and experience in the management of agricultural practices. As GCC countries cover large areas of the desert, focus on less water-intensive crops or alternative innovations such as vertical farming and hydroponics as a means of reducing pressure on the country’s water resources. It is essential to invest in a traditional method. Equally important, defining more cost-effective crops to produce locally from importable crops is a strategic mission to maintain water, energy and land resources.

Maintaining a share of the agricultural sector in the national economy is important for making food accessible and accessible to residents, increasing farmers’ incomes and reducing migration from rural to urban areas. In addition, the development of the sector by efficiently using energy and water resources to meet domestic demand will contribute to the concept of a circulating carbon economy, which is considered to be an important strategy for environmental protection.

Complex interactions and dynamics between water, energy, and food resources form a great need to develop multi-sectoral and cross-sectoral approaches while destroying organizational silos. The various organizations that manage these resources have strong internal differentiation and heterogeneity, and creating a common and equivalent basis for comparing these resources is a sustainable natural resource program. This is the first step in developing effective policy recommendations.

At the Qatar Institute for Environmental Energy (QEERI), which is part of Hamad Bin Harifa University, a member of the Qatar Foundation (QF), policymaking is the best research evidence available. The results of this research work provide policy makers with a set of possible options and tools to improve the design and performance of knowledge systems for natural resource management.

At the end of last year, QEERI released the first issue of a new sustainability electronic newsletter in an effort to showcase the contributions of research carried out at the Institute to address the imminent sustainability issues in Qatar. In this electronic newsletter, it is important for researchers to coordinate goals across different sectors at the local, regional, and international levels to achieve a sustainable food system along several key factors. Was emphasized.

Dr. Sa’d Shannak is a scientist at the Qatar Institute for Environmental Energy (QEERI), which is part of the University of Hamadbin Harifa, a member of the Qatar Foundation (QF). The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect HBKU’s official position.

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https://timeskuwait.com/news/towards-a-multisectoral-thinking-in-desert-farming/ Towards multi-sectoral thinking in desert agriculture

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