A recent experiment by Emirati and Korean agricultural experts helped transform a Sharjah desert into a huge rice field, paving the way for what could boom the farming industry in the region.
Rice grown on a desert
Until now, dates and citrus fruits were among the few things that could survive the sweltering heat and grow despite rigorous weather conditions. Well, you’re in for some good news because the UAE’s Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE), the Rural Development Administration (RDA) of the Republic of Korea and UAE University collaborated in growing rice on a desertous land over a six-month period.
Eventually, the experiment turned out to be a success with a yield of 763 kg of rice per 1,000 square meters.
“The innovative venture is the first endeavor of its kind in the Middle East. If successful on a large scale, this groundbreaking project has the potential to shape the future of agriculture, as it can be replicated in other arid regions. Rice is one of the most important foods that is consumed on a daily basis in this region. We are focusing on driving innovation and exploring agritech in growing the crops that are in high demand locally. We seek to make the most of our resources and find the crops and methods that are suitable for our desert climate. In this process, we are exploring and adopting more innovative solutions in every phase.”His Excellency Dr Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment
Could the Empty Quarter turn green?
Given that the Empty Quarter encompasses an area of 250,966 mi², bigger than countries like France, Japan and New Zealand, agriculture on the deserted land could seriously disrupt the farming industry in the region, and could possibly make the Middle East self-reliant on its agricultural needs.
It’s also worth pointing out about Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Ali Al-Nuaimi, also known as the ‘Green Sheikh,’ who envisioned about transforming the entire Empty Quarter into a forest by bringing a piece of an iceberg from Antarctica to Fujairah, which could impact the country In numerous ways, from reducing temperatures to bringing in more rains and making farming conditions more suitable. While the concept sounds overly ambitious, UAE’s collaboration with Korea could be the way forward.
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Featured photograph credit: Ministry of Climate Change and Environment