Cablegate: Icarda and Usda Developing Cooperation On Water

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

131133Z Oct 05




E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: ICARDA and USDA Developing Cooperation on Water
and Food Safety

1. Summary: USDA/FAS water specialist Sylvana Li and
Amman-based ESTH FSN Rana Safadi visited the
International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry
Areas (ICARDA) in Aleppo, Syria September 22-23 to
develop new activities with ICARDA on water reuse and
water quality. Li will work with ICARDA in preparing
USDA's water management for food safety workshop planned
for Tunis in 2006. USDA/FAS/ICD and FAS/Rabat work
closely with ICARDA on watershed management and
Geographic Information Systems (GIS) projects in Tunisia
and other NEA locations. End summary.

ICARDA Working to Increase Water Productivity

2. ICARDA Assistant General Manager for Research William
Reskine expressed interest in cooperation with the USG
and with American NGOs. Li described an upcoming USDA-
sponsored workshop in Tunisia in Fall 2006 on water
management for food safety, and asked for ICARDA
assistance with that workshop and more generally, with
USDA's work on water reuse and water quality.

3. ICARDA staffers Manzoor Qadir and Bogachan Benli
discussed the organization's Management of Scarce Water
Resources and Mitigation of Drought in Dry Areas (MP1)
project. MP1 does research on sustainably increasing
water productivity in arid areas. The scope of the MP1
project began at the farm level, and has expanded to the
basin level in Central and West Asia and North Africa
(CWANA). Fifteen countries in that region are below the
water poverty level, according to ICARDA. Renewable
water resources are limited, and rainfall is highly
variable and unpredictable. According to ICARDA, West
Asia and North Africa are forecast to get hotter and
drier, exacerbating water scarcity and increasing drought
frequency. These changes will further threaten the
already precarious livelihoods of the poor, especially in
the rural areas, who depend on agriculture.

4. ICARDA is working with national programs in the
region to increase water productivity through better
management of water resources, development of drought
tolerant crops, and agronomic management of cropping
systems. This requires development of supportive policy
options, and building the capacities of farmers,
extensionists, and researchers.

Land Management for Combating Desertification

5. Project Director Richard Thomas and Range Management
Scientist Jim Tiedman talked about their Land Management
for Combating Desertification project (MP3).
Desertification is sometimes caused by natural
degradation, but in many areas degradation is accelerated
by human activities. ICARDA aims to identify options for
rehabilitating degraded land resources, and to improve
and strengthen systems of land management to control
degradation and sustain future production.

Field Trip

6. Adriana Bruggeman led a field trip in areas around
Aleppo on September 23. The trip included the Qwayk
valley, irrigated areas near Sfere, Jabbul Salt Lake, and
Khanasser Valley, where the MP1 water management project
operates. The field trip showcased the water and drought
situation in that part of Syria, and ICARDA's efforts in
dealing with the issue. There is great potential for
wastewater treatment and water reuse for agricultural
applications in Syria.

Background on ICARDA
7. ICARDA, established in 1977, is one of the 15
agricultural research centers located around the world
supported by the Consultative Group on International
Agricultural Research (CGIAR). With its main research
station and offices based in Aleppo, Syria, ICARDA works
through a network of partnerships with national, regional
and international institutions, universities, non-
governmental organizations and ministries in the
developing world; and with research institutes in
industrialized countries.

8. ICARDA's mission is to improve the welfare of poor
people and alleviate poverty through research and
training in dry areas of the developing world by
increasing agricultural production, productivity and
nutritional quality while preserving the natural resource
base. ICARDA works with national agricultural research
organizations in developing and industrialized countries.
While most of ICARDA's collaborative activities are based
on written agreements, some joint research is also
carried out informally based on the center's personal
contacts with colleagues in other institutions.

9. This cable has been cleared by Embassy Damascus and
by Dr. Li.


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