Salt-Friendly Plant Considered Promising Harvest Crop in the Middle East

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farming seeds for the future

An Egyptian farmer gathers rice stems in a field close to the Nile delta town of Zagazig © PHOTO/CRIS BOURONCLE

A halophyte (salt-tolerant) plant known as salicornia could be the key to advancing agriculture production as well as renewal energy resources and water conservation, reports IPS News. Salicornia, or samphire, is perhaps best known for its culinary use as an herb particularly in Europe. However, given its ability to grow in both fresh and salt water, it is now considered a promising crop to be harvested on unproductive land across the Middle East once considered too saline for traditional farming practices. Researchers at the University of Arizona have discovered salicornia seeds contain approximately 30 per cent oil by weight, which can be utilized for vegetable oil or processed for agrofuel to potentially provide fuel. The remaining 70 per cent of its oilseed biomass has other sustainability uses such as protein feed for livestock and fodder. Hassan El-Shaer, president of the International Society for Halophyte Utilisation (ISHU) is quoted as saying “Salicornia is a very promising crop…Really, it is the hope of the world.”

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