Dr. Ismahane Elouafi
International Center for Biosaline Agriculture
Ismahane Elouafi is Director General of the International Center for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA), a not‐ for‐profit research‐for‐development organization she has been leading since 2012. She is a visionary leader and strategic thinker, highly adept as a transformational groundbreaker, delivering comprehensive stakeholder engagement as a change management champion, motivator, and relationship builder. Before Joining ICBA, she was Director of Research Management and Partnerships Division at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
She is a recipient of a number of awards and honors, including the National Reward Medal by His Majesty Mohamed VI, the King of Morocco, and the Excellence in Science Award from the Global Thinkers Forum. In 2016, she was awarded the Arab Women of the year in the Science Category.
Dr Elouafi holds a PhD degree in genetics from Cordoba University, Spain.
New food systems for fighting poverty and malnutrition
Today the world is faced with multiple problems; climate change being one of the most daunting ones. Climate change debate has now moved from controversy around its existence to controversy around its amplitude. So we all finally recognize it and we all recognize its numerous negative effects, both socially and economically. Unfortunately, areas which we define as marginal (both biophysically and socially) will bear the brunt of climate change.
Regions with mostly marginal conditions like the Middle East and North Africa already suffer from limited and/or degraded natural resources. For example, water resources are very scarce. But climate change will make them even scarcer. It’s about time to start managing limited natural resources much better. What we do today will define what will happen to our children and future generations.
By 2050, agricultural production must increase by 70 % globally, and by almost 100 % in developing countries, in order to meet food demand alone. To produce the food required for a 9.1 billion by 2050, we will have to increase agricultural production in marginal environments using new food systems to fight poverty and malnutrition. At ICBA, we are trying to understand possible future climate scenarios and come up with potential solutions. We are using climate change downscaling, modeling and data technologies to gain insight on vulnerable areas and to better understand the likely future conditions and their impacts on livelihoods.
ICBA succeeded in introducing climate-resilient crops like quinoa, Pear millet, Sorghum, Barley and others. For example, quinoa can help communities living in marginal environments to meet their needs in terms of nutritional security (very high nutritional value), food security (tolerate high salinity and heat) and income security (price of quinoa in international markets is much higher than traditional staple crops).
Our center’s advances in developing and testing different solutions will be important in supporting vulnerable countries as they adapt to new climate conditions. Climate is changing. So should be our attitudes and approaches. It is time for us to get climate- smart.