The International Centre for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA) and Al Rostamani Group have partnered to develop and upgrade training and research facilities at ICBA’s headquarters to provide tailored capacity development programmes to a wide range of stakeholders locally and globally.

The agreement will help create a dedicated learning space for farmers, agricultural engineers, extension officers, and other specialists in agriculture and related fields.

A memorandum of understanding (MoU) to this effect was signed at the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment of the UAE, in the presence of Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri, UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment, by Dr Tarifa Alzaabi, Director-General of ICBA, and Hassan Abdullah Al Rostamani, Vice-Chairman of the Al Rostamani Group.

“Developing agricultural capabilities and research is one of the most important strategies of the UAE to boost national food security and develop a sustainable food sector," Mariam Almheiri said.

The minister said the UAE is focusing on this sector to support our climate and environmental actions due to its ability to reduce emissions, minimise water consumption, and increase food production.

"Accordingly, we launched The COP28 Food Systems and Agriculture Agenda to be at the top of our discussions during the conference, which begins later this month. At COP28, we invite the world to sign Emirates Declaration on Resilient Food Systems, Sustainable Agriculture, and Climate Action which increases global pledges to invest in these systems and contribute to global hunger eradication,” she said.

“We are pleased with the cooperation between the International Center for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA) and Al Rostamani Group to establish modern agricultural systems. We encourage similar partnerships, which paves the way for more cooperation between various stakeholders to employ a trained workforce and resources to build a sustainable agricultural sector in the UAE. This cooperation also contributes to achieving the UAE’s vision to build national competencies that possess the knowledge, and experiences to transform emerging trends into a prosperous reality now and in the future,” the minister said.

Under the agreement, the Al Rostamani Group will support the development of a new specialised training centre and two research facilities at ICBA. These new facilities will strengthen ICBA’s scientific capabilities and increase the reach and scope of its capacity development offerings.

Dr Tarifa Alzaabi, Director-General of ICBA, said: “We are delighted to join forces with the Al Rostamani Group to take our center’s capacity development programs to a new level. The group’s financial support will help ICBA to cater to the needs of many beneficiaries not only from the UAE but also from other parts of the world."

"This initiative is also aligned with the UAE’s national and international agendas for improving environmental sustainability and boosting sustainable agriculture and food security through knowledge and technology transfer,” he said.

Marwan Abdullah Al Rostamani, Chairman of the Al Rostamani Group, said: “We are proud and honored to partner with ICBA on one of the UAE’s strategic goals towards sustainability in agriculture. Our collaboration is aimed at supporting our nation’s vision of food security by leveraging the latest in research and the best of technology.”

“Through this cooperation between Al Rostamani Group and ICBA, we are investing in education and innovation. This focus on enhancing and preserving food, nutrition, agriculture, and water, is for today and future generations. We strongly believe that enabling today’s youth will pave the way for ensuring their leadership to care for and protect the environment,” he added.

The new training centre has the capacity for 300 people and will feature modern multipurpose halls and spaces. The research facilities will include an advanced laboratory for plant tissue culture and an upgraded integrated agri-aquaculture system.

In addition to farmers and other agricultural workers, the training and research facilities will be used for developing the competencies and skills of researchers, graduates, students, and other groups from the UAE and abroad, focusing on sustainable agriculture, environmental protection, and agribusiness development, among other things.

Knowledge and technology transfer is integral to ICBA’s research and development projects. The centre works to improve both individual and institutional capabilities in different countries. It has a wide range of technical training offerings, including short- and mid-term courses, certified programs, and farmer field schools, to develop the capacity and knowledge of various stakeholders.

The centre also offers resources, courses, and programs to undergraduate and graduate students, post-doctoral researchers, and women and young professionals. These include e-learning and online courses, fellowships, and internships. ICBA’s two flagship programs for women and youth are the Arab Women Leaders in Agriculture and the ICBA Youth Engagement Society.

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