Alternatives chosen for Rhodes grass, a principal animal feed and a water-intensive crop
Abu Dhabi, August 23, 2010: As part of its efforts to minimize the use of precious natural resources like water in agriculture, Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority (ADFCA) is considering the phasing out of the cultivation of the water-intensive Rhodes grass, which is one of the principal animal feeds in the region.
In lieu of Rhodes, the Authority will supply four different types of high quality animal feed to the farmers and cattle owners in the emirate. The alternate animal feeds have been chosen on the basis of their potential to ensure a balance between all the required components of growth and immunity in the animals such as proteins, vitamins and fiber. A number of studies and field visits to different countries by senior ADFCA experts preceded the final choice of feed for the animals.
"The phasing out of Rhodes is part of a series of initiatives aimed at thorough farming reforms that will eventually lead to better products and productivity, adherence to the best international practices and scientific methods and reduced pressure on precious natural resources. By the end of 2013, we are determined to reduce the use of water in farming by 40%. To that end, we are planning to stringently regulate the cultivation of water-intensive crops such as Rhodes grass. For example, a whopping 24000 cubic meters of water is consumed annually for cultivating Rhodes in one hector of land," explained a spokesperson from ADFCA.
"We are involved in a variety of regulatory efforts now to promote sustainable and environment-friendly agriculture. These are complemented by a slew of awareness campaigns among farmers and farm owners for, without cooperation and informed decisions from them; we will not be able to achieve the desired changes. Right now, we are focusing attention on the Western region, where the recently set up Farmers Services Centre is working with the farmers to bring about a sea change in the farming practices," he pointed out.
In view of the scarcity of rain water in the UAE in general and in the dry desert regions in particular, the decision to reduce the cultivation of water-intensive crops is significant. The average rainfall in some of the dry areas is less than even 100 mm and the average availability of ground water is less than 10% of the total requirements. It is these alarming figures that prompted the Government of Abu Dhabi to take decisive action to mitigate the pressure on natural resources. The Vision 2030 for the Emirate of Abu Dhabi reckons the preservation of natural resources among top priority issues.