Arab scientists learn to fight desertification in China 24/9/2013
Sixteen scientists from Yemen, Sudan, Libya, Palestine and Morocco participated in a month-long desert control training program, which concluded on Monday in northwest China’s Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region.

The Anti-Desertification Technology Training Program for Arab Countries, co-organized by the Ministry of Commerce and the Ningxia Academy of Agriculture and Forestry Sciences (NAAFS), includes courses on a wide range of topics, such as tree selection and the development of industries related to desert control.

The training program has been held five times since it was initiated in 2006, with more than 100 desert control specialists from Arab countries participating.

The scientists learned about techniques used to prevent desertification in Ningxia and exchanged experiences with their Chinese counterparts.

Located in the arid northwestern part of China, Ningxia has been fighting drought and desert expansion ever since the autonomous region was established in 1958.

Scientists have come up with many creative methods to prevent the situation from worsening.

Statistics from the regional government show that the total area of desertified land in Ningxia has decreased from 1.65 million hectares in the 1970s to 1.18 million hectares in 2010, with more than 400,000 hectares of desert transformed into arable land.

According to Wang Feng, head of NAAFS, the Arab scientists are particularly interested in the selection and cultivation of drought-resistant plants in Ningxia.

“Some of these plants can be used to produce animal feed, which could develop into a profitable industry,” he explained.

Deserts account for a quarter of the world’s total land area. More than 110 countries and about 1 billion people have been affected by desertification. China and many Arab countries are among the worst-affected areas.