GRM 2010 GRM 2011

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Kuwait is one of the Gulf Cooperation Council member countries (Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates). With the continued rapid expansion of oil sector, diversification of economy and the constraints to local agriculture production the agriculture sector contributes only 0.4% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product. Despite the several challenges facing the agriculture sector in Kuwait, it is still at high priority to the development, intensification and modernization of the sector (food, livestock, greenery and fisheries).

Being poor and scarce terrestrial resources, hyper-arid (precipitation/potential evapotranspiration < 0.05) and under critical water stress (> 10,000 persons per Million Cubic Meter of water) conditions, Kuwait’s Ecological Footprint of Consumption is 6.32 global hectare per person (gha) compared to biocapacity of 0.40 gha per person, with a nominal deficit of 5.92 gha per person (Kuwait uses more resources that locally generated), the deficit is compensated through extensive food import. Kuwait being capital rich nation due to rich oil resources, it has no foreign exchange limitation for food import, or in foreign investment in agriculture sector to improve its food security. Due to many constraints to local agriculture production the engagement of local peoples to agriculture is less that 1.1%. It is projected that climate change will greatly impact agriculture sector Kuwait.

Kuwait faces several climatic challenges in its agricultural sector. The harsh climatic conditions entail high summer temperatures, high winds and dust storms, little or no rainfall, short growing season, limited natural water resources, high soil and irrigation water salinity, greater frequency of drought, increased insect and pest problems, fragile ecosystem and lack of sufficient natural greenery which makes Kuwait one of the least agriculturalized countries in the world. Arable land amounts to less than 9% of total acreage. UN classifies Kuwait as being exposed to extreme water scarcity. Since there is nearly no natural source of fresh water, 91% national requirements is reliant on costly desalinated water and 54% of the total water is used for productive agriculture and garden watering. Conventional plant production operations have caused economic and ecological problems associated with a short growing season, increased costs of energy based inputs, declining farm incomes, soil and water pollution and soil erosion. Since climatic challenges impose constraints on sustainable agricultural development, greater emphasis is needed for safeguarding natural resources and agro-ecological practices. The state relies extensively on imported food from other countries, leading to food insecurity and hence there is an urgent need for adapting sustainable and economically viable crop production system to enhance production efficiency, productivity and quality.
The major challenge of the agriculture sector in Kuwait is to maximize land and water productivity without degrading the environment and natural resource base. To overcome this obstacle, Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research (KISR), being the pioneer institute in agriculture research, aims to develop efficient farming systems, evolving crop and animal production technologies to conserve and sustainably utilize natural resources and also to enhance greenery under Kuwait’s harsh climatic conditions. For this, the emphasis is given on sustainable and efficient use of available land, water, energy and plants in agriculture. KISR aims to select and adapt crop plants that can tolerate increasing salinity levels in soil and tolerate continuous irrigation with poor quality water. Hence in the new strategic plan, KISR also planning to develop modern agricultural technology to improve production performance of promising crops such as forage barley and wheat for achieving food security. The crop water use efficiency can be maximized through the promotion of modern irrigation systems and the introduction of crop varieties suitable for Kuwait's environment is a positive strategy in managing the available water resources of the country. The efforts in the area also include applied research into integrated farming systems, sustainable crop production and animal production technologies. These modern technologies will serve the needs of the local agriculture sector in increasing economical and efficient agricultural production. This paper focuses on constraints and possibilities of agriculture in Kuwait and on the major agriculture production research works conducted at Arid land Agriculture and Greenery Department which may help in delivering plants with improved yield characteristics, identifying production techniques for multipurpose crops and expanding existing irrigation practices to new crops. The continuation of these researches is vital in improving the agricultural prospects of Kuwait.

Keywords: Biocapacity • desert • ecological footprint •harsh climatic conditions • integrated farming systems