PARTNERSHIPS FOR ENHANCED ENGAGEMENT IN RESEARCH (PEER) SCIENCE, FUNDED BY USAID CYCLE 1
PI: Kristina Toderich, International Center for Biosaline Agriculture for Central Asia and Caucasus (ICBA-CAC)
US Partner: Laurel Saito, University of Nevada
Project Dates: June 2012 - June 2015
A possible avenue for reclamation of saline lands is the use of halophytic species (salt-loving plants) that remove salts from saline soils and water. In 2012, the International Center for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA) initiated the Enhanced Forage and Bioenergy Production (EFBP) project in Uzbekistan in collaboration with academic and research institutions as well as NGOs. The project aimed to assess the potential for halophytic plants as an economic resource via food for humans, animal feed, biofuel production, or through maintaining or restoring agricultural production of conventional crops on high saline soils.
The current video information is focused on cultivating halophytes that remove salts from soils and water, offers a sustainable course of action to generate renewable bioenergy (biogas production). The biomass of 7 wild halophyte species was assessed by Dr Natalya Akinshina at laboratory conditions of the Department of Allied Ecology and Sustainable Development. National University of Uzbekistan for biogas production resulting in the identification of Karelina caspica which was never previously cultivated as it is inedible with poor forage value. ICBA experiments showed that it has high biogas production per unit of dry biomass making it an excellent bio-fuel source. In future, ICBA will seek support to cultivate it using saline water to assess its continuous use as raw material for biogas. Further work is needed to develop appropriate technology packages for the domestication of these plants for pastoral improvement. Subsequently, scaling up of these packages throughout Uzbekistan and other countries within the region through a multi-pronged approach that demonstrates the benefits of cultivating salt-tolerant plants, along with comprehensive outreach efforts to disseminate appropriate halophyte varieties and best farming practices among rural communities, farmers, and policy makers.
Establishment of an interactive and easily accessible website in the local language together with applicable multimedia tools (CDs, apps, mobile), to serve as a knowledge hub within the Central Asia region is a long term objective of ICBA..