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  • Author or Editor: Mahdi Abdal x
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Agricultural development in Kuwait faces many problems and obstacles, such as limitation of water resources for irrigation, soils conditions, climatic extreme (particularly during the summer periods), and trained labor. With these extreme conditions for agricultural development in Kuwait, there is a strong demand from the public and the government for agricultural activities, particularly in urban landscape and greenery. World travel has enhanced the public's desire for the beautification of the urban areas and has emphasized the importance of the urban landscape. Planning urban landscape and greenery for Kuwait depends on various variables and efficient management of limited resources. Irrigation water is limited in Kuwait, and the quality of water is deteriorating from over-pumping of underground water and increased soil salinity by over irrigation and lack of drainage. Efficient irrigation-water management can be improved in Kuwait with enhanced irrigation research and implementation of the recommendations of this research. Research topics can also include water evaporation, which is high in Kuwait, and the introduction of mulching materials to improve water irrigation efficiency. Most of the soils in Kuwait are sandy with limited organic materials and plant nutrients. Research in soil fertility and plant uptake of nutrients is essential for any agricultural activities. Introducing ornamental plants tolerant to drought, salinity, and heat is a continuous research component of urban landscape and greenery in Kuwait. Training local staff in basic agricultural activities and research development should improve resource management and enhance the greenery of Kuwait.

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Tomatoes are the leading vegetable crop in Kuwait and are produced in both open field agriculture (OFA) and protected environment agriculture (PEA). Prior to the invasion by Iraq there were 1018 ha of tomatoes in OFA and 76 ha in PEA. We project that nearly 90% of the pre-invasion PEA area and more than 50% of the OFA area will be restored to production in the 1994 season.

Most of the PEA structures currently in production are simple structures of bent pipe frames with plastic film covers. Some multi-span, rigid-cover structures have been restored. Fan and pad cooling systems are used although many of the structures are uncooled and produce only a winter crop.

PEA production uses desalinated sea water (DW) for irrigation and a mixture of DW and brackish water (BW) for cooling. OFA uses a mixture of DW and BW for irrigation, usually applied with drip systems.

Pest problems include whitefly, spider mite, aphid, root knot nematode and a number of diseases including tomato yellow leaf curl.

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The August 1990 invasion and subsequent occupation of Kuwait brought about approximately nine (9) months of “forced neglect”, resulting in losses of entire areas of greenery. In this study, random sites representative of 550 hectares of existing greenery were monitored to gather information on species susceptibility to “forced neglect” under harsh conditions. While the environment, water availability and sand movement have always been formidable obstacles to ornamental plant production here, they have greatly exaggerated the broad adverse impacts under these conditions of “forced neglect”. Nevertheless, certain genotypes from many of the ornamental species were found to exhibit substantial tolerance to drought and fluctuating temperatures.

At the time of the invasion, efforts had been under-way to develop an over-all Master Plan for beautifying the entire country. The impact of the crisis on the greening strategy, the plant pallette and the unique cultivars that will be needed will be discussed.

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The climate of Kuwait can be characterized as hot (maximumin excess of 45°C), and dry during the summers (May to October), with high evaporation (16 mm/d). Night-time temperatures also remain relatively high during these summer months. Rainfall over the course of the year is very low, usually being limited to less than 100 mm, which falls primarily during the winter months. Likewise, while the country's sand and dust storms occur primarily during the summer months, there may be occasional flurries at almost any time during the year, causing major additional problems with unprotected production of sensitive food crops, like strawberries. Water is also one of the country's most limiting resources, with all ground-water being highly brackish.

Strawberry production, on a commercial basis is a relatively new development in Kuwait. Pre-war production (under protected and unprotected environments) had increased to over 125 tons, on approximately 5 ha of land, providing about 75% of the then existing demand. Strawberry growers set their plants in November and harvest fruit in May. If production could be maintained on a year round basis, at high quality levels, demand would presumably also be significantly higher. While yields had increased to about 25 tons per hectare, production problems include pests (including aphids), cultural practices and adapted cultivars. Current and planned work will be discussed.

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Eggplant is an important vegetable crop in Kuwait. Eggplant is considered to have moderately sensitive salt-tolerance, though no quantitative information is available on its salt sensitivity. Selecting salt-tolerant genotypes in eggplant is an ongoing project at Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research. Towards the goal of selecting salt-tolerant genotypes in eggplant a completely randomized experiment using 10 cultivars, replicated 3 times were tested against 2 levels of high salinity stress (EC MS.cm-1 at 25°C, 15.0 and 18.0) along with the control (EC MS.cm-1 at 25°C, 3.0). The experiment was conducted on 15 days old seedlings inside a greenhouse. Data on shoot length and visual observations on leaf necrosis, leaf collapse and root color was also recorded. There was a clear degree of variability as well as significant differences in growth and final survival, between cultivars at 2 levels of salinity stress. Those genotypes that showed significant higher growth rates and survival without any signs on leaf necrosis and root collapse formed the basis salt-tolerant genotypes.

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The Climate of Kuwait is characterized by hot and dry summers with frequent sandstorms, and mild winters with low rainfall. Soils are generally sandy in texture. Water supplies are particularly limited and all ground water resources are extremely brackish with an average total dissolved solids (TDS) content of 4500 mg/l. Trickle system is the major method used for irrigation. Lack of water is the main limiting factor in Kuwait. High temperature is another factor causing increased evaporation. Such evaporation brings soluble salt to the soil surface and forms saline soils. Salinity is further elevated by the use of brackish water in irrigation. There have been many ways to alleviate this problem, but the most important approach practiced has been to carefully select plant species that are saline and heat tolerant. Tests have been carried out to establish the tolerance of numerous species, under conditions of brackish (3500-4500 mg/l) water irrigation and high temperatures. Lists of some of the plant species found to be most tolerant will be presented. Some of these plant species are already native to Kuwait and are adapted to local conditions, while others need to be acclimatized.

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Eggplant (Solanum melonga L.) cotyledons were used to form somatic embryos for somaclonal induction and for selection of salt tolerant genotypes in a genetic improvement program. Naphthalene acetic acid at concentrations ranged from 5 uM to 85 uM induced embryogenesis when cultures were incubated under 16 hrs of light photoperiod. NAA was the only growth regulator required, and the addition of kinetine and benzyl adenine inhibited embryo formation. High frequency embryogenesis formed in 2 week old cotyledons when cultured on a medium supplemented with 43 uM NAA. Data showed that varieties varied in their embryogenesis potential and that cotyledons were the most responsive tissue. Somatic embryos germinated into plantlets when transferred into media without any growth regulators. Somatic embryos were plated on germination media supplemented with Kuwait brackish water to increase the total dissolved salts in the medium from 4,770 ppm to 30,000 ppm in seven equal increments. Brackish water at all concentrations caused embryos to revert into profuse callus growth.

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A preliminary technical study has been carried out on vegetable production in Kuwait after liberation from Iraqi occupation. These assessment observations and data have been compared with pre-invasion published and unpublished data. The extent of damage and devastation to the status and needs, as well as the opportunities existing in this sub-sector, have been preliminarily described and documented. While the harshness of the environment, the scarcity of the water, the level of the temperatures, and the mobility of the sand have always been formidable obstacles here to vegetable production productivities, quantities produced, and qualities yielded, they now serve to exaggerate the adverse impact of this crisis on this sub-sector. Open fields, and their support systems, have been severely disrupted, protected environmental units have been dismantled, and irrigation systems have been destroyed, labor dissipated, and essential supplies pillaged. Opportunities now appear to abound for greenhouse and hydroponic advanced technologies in reconstructing and expanding Kuwait's vegetable production. Costs need to be balanced against value of products produced.

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Mangrove (Avicennia marina) (Forsk.) Vierh. is an indigenous plant species of the intertidal coastlines of the Arabian Gulf. Research is in progress for protection of mangrove habitat and for introduction of mangrove into the coastlines of Kuwait. This study was initiated to determine factors affecting seed germination, seedling growth and establishment of propagules into suitable sites, and the efficacy of utilizing seed weight as a parameter for early genetic evaluation. Seeds of open pollinated wild stand of Avicennia were obtained from the State of Bahrain. Avicennia seeds varied in size and weight. Seed weight ranged from 0.3 to 6.3 grams, 89% of the seed ranged from 1 to 3 grams. The median seed weight varied from 1.3 to 1.9 depending upon the source and the collection time during the seed maturation season. Seedling survival, early appearance of epicotyl and height were affected positively by seed weight. Early branching and number of root primordia were not correlated with seed weight.

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