The third day of the conference (14.03.2023) at Al-Qasemi Academy began with a morning workshop session titled “Transformations in Applied Research on Modern Agriculture and Ways of Providing Food Security until 2050.” This workshop was chaired and facilitated by Professor Mouhammad Zeidan – Dean of Sciences at Al-Qasemi Academy. This session included four different lectures all revolving around the issue of providing food security until the year 2050. The lectures highlighted how food insecurity is one of the most urgent problems that humans will face in the future, especially given that population increase is on the rise, which will ultimately lead to food shortages. The lectures also discussed ways to develop modern agricultural methods more tailored to dealing with food security and climate change issues.
The first lecture, entitled “Challenges Facing Research on Agriculture and Food Security: An Opportunity or Threat,” was presented by Professor Abed Gera who began by defining the contemporary food security crisis and elaborating on possible scientific solutions. Professor Gera addressed the necessity of reducing food spoilage at all sites and stages of the production chain by, for example, employing modern techniques that can preserve agricultural products for longer periods or developing control methods for pests and agricultural pathogens that are more effective and environmentally friendly. Professor Gera also, touched on the importance of increasing productivity through employing sustainable applied computing using robots equipped with sensors to monitor huge data on the physiological status of plants and the overall environment, further elaborating on how vertical farming, hydroponics, and urban farming methods are now among the most important solutions to food security issues and the overall climate change crisis. He then detailed the new developments in sustainable farming methods, which are more resistant to environmental pathogens and thus able to reduce the need to use chemical pesticides, including the use of robots for agricultural tasks like planting, ploughing, weeding, and harvesting. Professor Gera concluded the lecture by emphasizing the importance of humanitarian cooperation and solidarity between countries to confront the climate change crisis and minimize its repercussions on global food security.
It is noteworthy to mention that Professor Abed Gera is an leading expert in agricultural research and plant virology, and he held several prestigious positions including the Director of the Agricultural Research Organization at the Volcani Center as well as the Director of the Plant Protection and Inspection Services and Chief Scientist at the Israeli Ministry of Agriculture.
This was followed by the second lecture, entitled “Food Farming in Light of Changing Climate Challenges and Solutions,” which was delivered by Dr Gideon Toporov – Head of the Agricultural Preparation Committee on Climate Change and specialist in Agricultural Ecology. In his lecture, Dr. Toporov explained in detail the mechanisms and ideas that are currently being employed to cope with the climate change crisis, including using computerized models to predict the repercussions of the climate change crisis on specific crops and develop diversified solutions to sustain the production of crops that are most resistant to climate change.
Mrs Avigail Heller – Director of the Urban Agriculture and Botanical Gardens Department at the Ministry of Agriculture – presented the third lecture, titled “Urban-Vertical Agriculture.” In this lecture, Mrs Heller touched on contemporary urban agriculture projects currently being incorporated in cities, such as roof cultivation and hydroponics, as a possible solution for food shortages, further explaining how these eco-friendly methods reduce the need for chemical pesticides, large quantities of irrigation water, and big agricultural space. Mrs Heller concluded the lecture by noting that these projects require more financial support without which such promising projects would not be able to succeed.
As for the fourth, and final, lecture, titled “The Economic Repercussions of the Climate Change Crisis on Israeli Agriculture,” it was given by Dr Muammar Haj Yahya – Director of Planning and Agricultural Crop Insurance Department at the Israeli Ministry of Agriculture. Dr Haj Yahya discussed the computerized models used by insurance companies to calculate the percentage of agricultural insurance coverage in times of crisis, and he reviewed the stages of formulating the models and monitoring the economic factors affecting agricultural production.
Note: All lectures were broadcast live on Al-Qasemi Academy Facebook page (with instant translation into Arabic for the lectures delivered in English). You can find the lecture recordings uploaded on the conference’s webpage.