The 6th Arab Water Week (AWW) took place in Amman, Jordan, on the 5th –7 th March, 2023. Hundreds of participants from 35 countries andmembers of the Arab Countries Water Utilities Association (ACWUA) representing 100 water and waste water utilities from 18 Arab countries joined the event fordefining the way forward for a more sustainable and water-secure future.
Although the implementation of SRI methods in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region did not reach the majority offarmers, experts in key positions within countries' agricultural research institutions have great expertise in these methods. In fact, experts like DrKhidhir Abbas Hameed Kirmasha and Dr Waled El-Khoby consistently worked formore than a decade on the adaptation of SRI principles to the contexts of theircountries and contribute to share SRI-related knowledge with local farmers. Their long-standing friendship and professional consultations with the SRI-Rice group from Cornell University facilitated the connection with SRI-2030.
As the MENA region is one of the most affected by water scarcity and soil depletion, but it is also consuming important amounts of rice, the opportunities to spreadSRI methods for rice cultivation are relevant. Awareness on these agroecological methods should be spread among local researchers and policy makers for the definition of strategies to systemically include SRImethods in the countries’ plan to optimize the water-use efficiency and unsurefood security.
Under direct suggestion of the informal SRI-MENA group, composed by Dr. Khidhir Abbas Hameed Kirmasha, Prof. em. Farid El-Daoushy, and Dr Waled El-Khoby, SRI-2030 supported the participation of the group in the 6th AWW for the disseminationof knowledge on SRI methods potential for water savings in the Arab region.
Dr Waled El-Khoby is Professor and Head of Research at the Rice Research andTraining Center at Sakha, and he is responsible for the introduction of SRI methods in Egypt in 2008. He represented the SRI-MENA group at the AWW anddelivered a presentation titled “Sustainable Intensification of Rice Productionin MENA region and the world”.
Also, Dr Waled presented to the audience the mission and the ambitious goal of SRI-2030 of upscaling SRI methods to 50 million hectares by 2030 while highlighting the opportunity to disseminate SRI methods for rice cultivation inthe MENA region. Dr Waled reported that it was a good opportunity to attendsuch an important event in Amman as he met with researchers and academic peoplefrom different organizations such as FAO, Arab League, UNICEF, Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI), Sweden, World Water net, and private companies from around the world. All discussions were focused on water saving, climate change, environment and food security and served as a basis to expandthe SRI-MENA network for possible future opportunities.
The deep knowledge on SRI systems and their utilization for sustainable riceproduction within the SRI-MENA group is a great resource for futureagricultural projects in the MENA region and valuable examples of SRI implementation available in countries like Egypt and Iraq are just waiting to be replicated and upscaled for the benefit of the environment and the people.