ADFCA � UAE Varsity Research Project to Develop Indigenous Salinity-Resistant Animal Fodders
Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority (ADFCA) has launched a new research project in association with UAE University's Faculty of Food and Agriculture to develop indigenous salinityï¿½resistant animal feeds.
The move is part of the Authority's efforts at supporting food security policies in the emirate and aims at assessing the production and nutritional value of a number of feed crops that could substitute the recently banned Rhodes grass.
As part of the project, around 150 gene types of wild plants with varying degrees of salinity that grow naturally in the UAE will be studied in comparison to the Rhodes grass. Their growth and production in three levels of water salinity will be assessed and the one that proves more resistant to salinity will be recommended to the farmers. Subsequently, their palatability for the cattle and impact on the health of the cattle will also be assessed.
Saeed Jasim Mohamed, Acting Director of Communication and Community Service at ADFCA said that the Authority's Research and Development Division had embarked on this project in order to identify indigenous crops that withstand the climatic and other conditions specific to the country. "This will help us produce salinity-resistant fodders which will result in reduction in the consumption of ground water for feed production. The partnership with the Faculty of Food and Agriculture is to take advantage of its long standing expertise in studies and research of this kind," he explained.
He added: "This is an ambitious project aimed at utilizing in the best fashion farming lands with a high level of salinity and increasing agricultural income. The results of this project will allow us to use crops cultivated in hard conditions not conducive to growth. Depletion of fresh water has become a major hurdle to sustainable farming in the country, a problem compounded by wrongful grazing of cattle which led to massive destruction of useful local fodders."
He pointed out that the cultivation of water-intensive crops like Rhodes and clover had resulted in massive depletion and salinity of ground water, necessitating suitable alternatives for feed crops that meet the needs of the farmers.
The research project consists of two aspects. One is to assess the growth and production as well as the suitability as animal feed of a number of local crops already available. The second is to develop new salinity-resistant feeds in the local environs, for which around 150 indigenous gene types will be gathered. Their growth and production as well as their suitability as animal feed will be studied later on. Eventually, the results of the study will contribute to food security, environmental protection and ecological sustainability.
The three-year long project, for which the preliminary work and technical studies have already been completed, will comprise experiments in the Research and Development Division's labs in Bani Yas and Al Salamat Research Station and the execution of the experiments about animal growth at the farm of the Faculty of Food and Agriculture in Sweihan.
The Research and Development Division of Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority was recently set up with a view to give a fillip to scientific development in the spheres of food and agriculture and to serve as a principal source of support to develop technical work in ADFCA's various sectors. The Division executes and oversees applied scientific research for improving productivity and guaranteeing food safety in food sector, agriculture and animal wealth. It also contributes to technology transfer operations in line with the requirements of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi to raise the bar on food safety and agriculture. The division comprises three departments, namely, departments of Agricultural Research, Food Research and Research Stations. The Research Stations consist of four stations, two in Al Ain (Al Salamat and Al Kuwaitat), one in Bani Yas and another in the Western Region. They conduct field research in line with the Division's strategies and goals.