Forces from Saudi Arabia, Pakistan conclude military exercise in Multan

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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - High demand for fresh water is threatening ‘optimistic expectations,’ says expert

RIYADH: The first Regional Conference on Irrigation and Agricultural Drainage in the Middle East held under the theme “Integrated management of the irrigation sector for sustainable development” opened on Monday in Riyadh.

The three-day conference is organized by the Saudi Irrigation Organization in collaboration with the International Commission on Irrigation and Drainage.

Speaking at the conference, Marco Arcieri, president of the ICID, warned that the increasing demands on the world’s freshwater sources are threatening “the most optimistic expectations,” noting that climate change will exacerbate these conditions.

Marco Arcieri, the President of International Commission on Irrigation & Drainage. (Supplied)

He emphasized the strategic importance of ensuring water provision, increasing agricultural production, and guaranteeing food security.

Modern irrigation plays a crucial role in ensuring food supplies and supporting economic development in many countries, Arcieri said.

The financing of new irrigation projects contributes significantly to improving productivity and increasing the resilience of rural communities through the more efficient use of water resources, he added.

Abdulrahman Al-Fadhli, Saudi Arabia’s minister of environment, water and agriculture,
underscored the importance of concerted efforts and the exchange of expertise to address irrigation and agricultural drainage issues and promote sustainable development.

“In recent years, Saudi Arabia has been keen on adopting numerous plans and strategies aimed at enhancing water services, maximizing their utilization and sustainability within a comprehensive vision,” he said.

Mohammed Abu Heed, president of the Saudi Irrigation Organization, affirmed that the conference represents a valuable opportunity for exchanging experiences, forming partnerships, and promoting awareness of the importance of water, a precious resource that must be preserved.

He said that the authority is making commendable efforts in raising awareness about water conservation.

The conference aims to find sustainable solutions for managing available water resources and maximizing the utilization of renewable sources to address the increasing demand for water in the agricultural sector.

It also seeks to provide a platform for stakeholders in the field to exchange knowledge, create partnerships, and promote integrated management of irrigation and drainage water.

The conference focuses on the irrigation sector and related topics, with the most important being the production of non-traditional water sources and their reuse, such as treated wastewater.

It highlights trends in irrigation methods, treated irrigation water technologies, dam operations for irrigation purposes, and the added value of data collection technologies and artificial intelligence in sustainable smart irrigation.


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