Moroccan Vault Protects Seeds From Climate Change & War

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Should a doomsday agricultural crisis hit the world’s driest environments, scientists and farmers will turn to an up-and-coming research center and seed bank in Morocco to restock their harvests.

Tucked away in the university hub of Irfane in Rabat, the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas, or ICARDA, hosts the largest collection of seeds in North Africa.

“If for any reason, a particular community lost all their resources, we are capable of providing them with the seeds for restoration and rehabilitation,” says Ahmed Amri, head of ICARDA’s Genetic Resources Unit.

The crucial role of seed banks in protecting biodiversity is receiving increasing attention because of climate change, which threatens to wipe out crops as dry areas of the world get even hotter and drier. The impact on African agriculture is among the topics being discussed at U.N. climate talks taking place through next week in Morocco.

The site in Rabat has become ICARDA’s primary center of storage and research after its previous hub in Aleppo, Syria, was seized by an Islamist rebel group in September 2015.

“We couldn’t continue doing this work because of the situation in Syria, so we decided to make arrangements to move elsewhere to continue our work,” says Amri, who used to work in Aleppo, but is now leading genetic research efforts in Rabat.

While many of the research activities moved to Rabat, 98 percent of the Aleppo center’s seeds were safely transferred to ICARDA’s center in neighboring Lebanon. Duplicates were also sent to a “doomsday” seed vault in Svalbard in the Norwegian Arctic, which serves as a backup for other seed banks worldwide.

Rebels from the ultraconservative Ahrar al-Sham group have occupied the Aleppo center since September 2015, cutting off access to its 75 employees. Amri has daily contact with the five staff members who remain in Aleppo, including associate scientist Ali Shehadeh.

“With the cease-fire, it’s stable and unstable at times,” Shehadeh told The Associated Press from Aleppo in a Skype interview facilitated by Amri.

The Rabat center holds tens of thousands of seeds spanning from wheat and barley to lentils and chickpeas inside a vault in near-freezing temperatures. The seed bank not only preserves these essential staples but develops them to become more resistant to disease and a warming climate.

Last year, Morocco faced an unprecedented drought that scientists and the government have linked to climate change, with drier and warmer winters in Morocco and neighbouring countries.

Domestic grain production dropped, forcing the government to drop tariffs on imports to avoid shortages and stem rising prices. Last month, the government decided to temporarily remove import duties for lentils to lower the price just in time for the winter season — a time when lentils are widely consumed in Morocco.

Scientists at the Rabat center work closely with farmers in Marchouch, a nearby rural town. The scientists provide seed samples to farmers who allocate about 2 percent of their own farm land to test the seeds and provide feedback to scientists.

“We are looking for science-based solutions for farmers’ problems,” says Shiv Kumar Agrawal, a lentil breeder with ICARDA. These problems include contending with droughts, invasive insects and increasing production.

Farmers report back to scientists on the results of the harvest yielded from the seed samples, after which further tests are conducted to improve the seeds’ durability and production yield.

Farmer Abdellah Slimani, 48, president of a farmers’ cooperative in Marchouch, believes the feedback loop has helped him and fellow farmers to improve their own methods as climate change continues to impact harvests.

“We hope that this year’s harvest will be better, God willing,” Slimani says.

Bruce Campbell of the Consortium of International Agricultural Research Centers says the climate conference in Marrakech offers a unique opportunity to address the impact of climate change on African agriculture.

“Considering all African countries have included agriculture in their climate adaption strategies, (the conference) will be the ideal setting to discuss how the most promising solutions can be deployed and indeed, funded,” he says.

Originally published by the Associated Press.

Remember, no problem has a quick fix solution. Thus, always ensure to consult highly knowledgeable group of professionals whom would provide you with a collective advice, never individual advice. This group advice and approach is unique with CWIIL Group and is based on the overall Management Philosophy of all CWIIL Group Companies.

Consulting CWIIL Group of Companies, for any / all investment matters ensures advice based on highest level of knowledge which are given to you by a team of select research-oriented experts whom each will do their own assessment of your matter, and also assess it together, thus ensuring that in case a mistake has been made by one, it will be noticed and corrected even before it is being passed on to you. Receiving incorrect and un-knowledgeable investment advice can be disastrous and thus should be avoided.

CWIIL Group of Companies is a global group of multi-specialised units with diversified interests and activities, wherein each company is a separate legal entity registered under prevailing laws in different parts of the world. CWIIL Group of Companies Products, Services, Project and Solutions are in a multitude of Verticals including, but not limited to, Infrastructure, Power, Oil & Gas, Legal, Media, Technology, ITES, HR, Shipping, Aviation, Real Estate, Hospitals, Health and Medicine, Education, Funding & Investment, Business and Legal Consultancy, and Public Private Partnerships, and other CWIIL Group Units, worldwide, to name a few.

For Further Queries Feel Free to Contact :

Mr. Mohammad Mukhtar Mustafa,
Deputy Global Director, No. 4,
Strategic Business & Intelligence Division,
Email : deputy.gd.4@cwiilgroup.eu
Voice : +45.8176.1923
Connect : LinkedIn – Twitter – Facebook – Quora

For Queries Specific to Middle East & North Africa :
Email : mena@cwiilgroup.com , hq@cwiilgroup.eu
Web : www.cwiilgroup.com , www.cwiilgroup.eu

For Any / All Other Queries :
CWIIL Group Global Regional Headquarters Denmark,
Address : No. 1, Klokkebjergevej, DK6900 Skjern, Denmark
Voice : +45.5148.3608
Fax : +45.7014.1498
Email : corpcomm@cwiilgroup.eu
Web : www.cwiilgroup.eu
Connect : LinkedIn – Twitter – Facebook – Quora

Office Hours :
Monday to Friday : 10.00 – 17.00 CET.
Saturday : 10.00 – 14.00 CET.
Sunday : Closed.

The Corporate Communications Team would require minimum a fortnight for Reviewing & Responding to Queries, which please note.

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Now Is The Right Time To Invest In MENA’s Tech Scene – Investment Advice From CWIIL Group

Away from the screaming headlines about gloom and doom in the Arab world is the rarely told story of a trend whose promise is nothing short of transformative. The rise of the digital economy has, for the first time in decades, turned the region into the site of a remarkable market opportunity that, if tapped, would take it on an entirely new economic trajectory.

With a collective GDP of US$2.85 trillion, the Arab world ranks among the top ten largest economies; larger than that of India, Russia or Brazil. More than half of the 369 million-strong population are under the age of 25, and the burgeoning middle class is young, educated and globally connected. Tellingly, over the past few years the levels of connectivity have been increasing drastically. Between 2007 and 2012, internet penetration jumped 294%, while mobile data traffic grew 107% in 2013, compared to 86% in Asia Pacific, 77% in North America and 57% in Western Europe. Moreover, the recent roll-out of low-cost affordable smartphones in emerging economies is sure to accelerate broadband penetration. Soon, social and mobile technologies will be within everyone’s reach.

Through ever higher connectivity, entrepreneurial activity and easy access to technologies that are lowering the costs and barriers to starting a business, the Arab world is positioning itself as a hub for innovation, disruption and growth. In fact, entrepreneurial vigor is already palpable across various Arab cities, from Cairo to Amman, Dubai to Jeddah to even war-torn Gaza. Startup investments have actually tripled between 2009 and 2012. In co-working spaces, accelerators and university halls, there is a new breed of tech-savvy entrepreneurs who are building products and technologies that are catching up with global trends (digital content and e-commerce) or solving big problems (e-payments, ed-tech, health and green energy). PayFort and Telr are tackling head-on inefficient online payment systems to boost e-commerce, while Nefham, EdraakTahrir Academy and SkillAcademy are using the power of technology and MOOCs to make online education more accessible to Arab youth.

Startups are not just disrupting the education and payment sectors, but also a whole range of markets, from real estate (AqarMap and Property Finder) to food delivery (Foodonclick and iFoodi.jo) to digital and social media marketing (The Online Project) to online recruitment and job placements, (Akhtaboot and Bayt.com) to big data, (Eqlim.com). One of the most interesting is Jamalon, a Jordanian startup that is set to disrupt the archaic Arab book distribution industry.

Digital Arabic content is actually one of the new economy’s most high-performing industries. One study mentions that today’s market size is in billions. Saudi Arabia ranks at number one globally in YouTube views per capita. UTURN, a Saudi startup that produces local, high quality online entertainment, has 286 million views so far. Similarly, Jordan-based creative company Kharabeesh has garnered, to date, around 365 million views and more than three million subscribers.

In fact, digital Arabic content has always been a fertile field for local startups. It is where the real potential of the tech scene first proved itself with the rise and eventual sale of Maktoob to Yahoo! in 2009. After the acquisition, Maktoob’s founders created several new companies including Souq.com, now under Jabbar Internet Group. Maktoob is the story of one successful exit, that helped kick off e-commerce, which today is the region’s fastest emerging market, surging from almost zero in 2008 to $9 billion in 2012. According to a study by PayPal, projections point to robust growth that could well reach $15 billion in 2015.

In the last couple of years, international and local funds have invested more than $250 million in the e-commerce industry. Leading investors, among them Naspers, Tiger Global Management, Rocket Internet, J.P. Morgan, Lumia Capital and Abdel Latif Jameel, have poured funding mainly into Souq.com, MarkaVIP and Namshi. Commonly referred to as the Middle East’s Amazon, Souq.com, founded in 2005, raised a total of $150 million in financing, with the latest round valuing the company at over $500 million.

Yet access to funding is still one of the main challenges startup founders face in scaling their businesses, as indicated by a recent study published by Wamda Research Lab (WRL). According to the survey, of the businesses that received funding between 2009 and 2012, only 21% raised more than $500,000. With 36% of entrepreneurs mentioning the lack of sufficient venture investments as a major barrier to scalability, it is obvious that more startup financing is needed, and investments larger than $500,000 are a pressing priority.

But it is a measure of the dynamism of the digital economy that it has been consistently delivering such an impressive performance in spite of the hurdles. For example, the response from the young startup investment landscape has been rather swift. Among the leaders in this space are incubators and accelerators, such as Oasis500, Flat6Labs and Gaza Sky Geeks, as well as early stage and venture capital funds, such as MENA Venture Investments, DASH Ventures, BECO Capital and iMena. Wamda Ventures is launching a scalability fund focused on growth companies in the internet space. Similarly, Middle East Venture Partners (MEVP) and Silicon Badia have launched funds focused on the same industries.

There are also corporate funds investing in the region’s tech sphere, such as MBC Ventures, STC Ventures and Vodafone Ventures. In parallel, in countries like Lebanon, the Central Bank has allocated $400 million to guarantee up to 75% of Lebanese banks’ equity investments in SMEs, incubators, accelerators and funds.

Significantly, the momentum is not only regional. Rocket Internet and MTN‘s recent partnership to invest around $400M in e-commerce, as well as 500Startups‘ active investment in outfits in Amman and Dubai are just two examples of growing international interest in local tech opportunities. At the same time, the Arab expatriate community in Silicon Valley has been playing an active role in bridging the Middle East and U.S. markets. TechWadi, for one, is leveraging its network to connect the region’s startups with U.S. mentors, capital and accelerators.

Moreover, according to WRL’s mapping, since 2008, there has been a sharp increase in the number of institutions supporting entrepreneurs in the Arab world. Currently, there are over 140 organizations actively working with regional startups. Wamda, Endeavor, Dubai SME and MIT Enterprise Forum Pan Arab Region have facilitated access to knowledge, networks and new markets.

The Arab world’s rising digital economy is dynamic, exciting and ripe for exponential growth. It is the right time to invest in it. Supported by patient capital, Arab startups will run with every opportunity. There will come a day when the next Alibabas will emerge from the Arab World, and if players pool their capital, resources and networks to support the rising generation of tech entrepreneurs, that day will come sooner than we dare hope.

These materials are not intended and should not be used as legal advice or other recommendation. If you need a legal opinion on a specific issue or factual situation, please contact a lawyer. Anyone using these materials should not rely on them as a substitute for legal advice.

Remember, no problem has a quick fix solution. Thus, always ensure to consult highly knowledgeable group of professionals whom would provide you with a collective advice, never individual advice. This group advice and approach is unique with CWIIL Group and is based on the overall Management Philosophy of all CWIIL Group Companies.

Consulting CWIIL Group of Companies, for any / all matters relating to investment ensures advice based on highest level of knowledge which are given to you by a team of select research-oriented experts whom each will do their own assessment of your matter, and also assess it together, thus ensuring that in case a mistake has been made by one, it will be noticed and corrected even before it is being passed on to you. Receiving incorrect and un-knowledgeable investment advice can be disastrous and thus should be avoided.

CWIIL Group of Companies is a global group of multi-specialized units with diversified interests and activities, wherein each company is a separate legal entity registered under prevailing laws in different parts of the world. CWIIL Group of Companies Products, Services, Project and Solutions are in a multitude of Verticals including, but not limited to, Infrastructure, Power, Oil & Gas, Legal, Media, Technology, ITES, HR, Shipping, Aviation, Real Estate, Hospitals, Health and Medicine, Education, Funding & Investment, Business and Legal Consultancy, and Public Private Partnerships, and other CWIIL Group Units, worldwide, to name a few.

For Further Queries Feel Free to Contact :

Mr. Mohammad Mukhtar Mustafa,
Deputy Global Director, No. 4,
Strategic Business & Intelligence Division,
Email : deputy.gd.4@cwiilgroup.eu
Voice : +45.8176.1923
Connect : LinkedIn – Twitter – Facebook – Quora

For Queries Specific to Middle East & North Africa :
Email : mena@cwiilgroup.com , hq@cwiilgroup.eu
Web : www.cwiilgroup.com , www.cwiilgroup.eu

For Any / All Other Queries :
CWIIL Group Global Regional Headquarters Denmark,
Address : No. 1, Klokkebjergevej, DK6900 Skjern, Denmark
Voice : +45.5148.3608
Fax : +45.7014.1498
Email : corpcomm@cwiilgroup.eu
Web : www.cwiilgroup.eu
Connect : LinkedIn – Twitter – Facebook – Quora

Office Hours :
Monday to Friday : 10.00 – 17.00 CET.
Saturday : 10.00 – 14.00 CET.
Sunday : Closed.

The Corporate Communications Team would require minimum a fortnight for Reviewing & Responding to Queries, which please note.

New Business Opportunities For Expanding in the Middle East – Specialized Advice From CWIIL Group

Many foreign entrepreneurs say that the Middle East is a “land of promise” for expatriates and even companies wishing to do business in the region. However, there are several drawbacks. Unlike Asian and European markets, it does not have a steady supply of trained manpower. The people are not industrious compared to other populations. Employees do not come cheap. Thus, entrepreneurial risks are greater.

The Middle East is composed of seven countries which are the top oil manufacturers in the world. However, it seems like the oil surge has made ordinary business standards look inappropriate. Too much wealth erased the need to obtain qualifications or craft smart business decisions. Yet, the economies of nations like the United Arab Emirates, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Iran, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, and Yemen are booming. They offer numerous stimulating investment and trade prospects for investors and exporters.

According to a private research study, the Middle East affords potential investors with considerable growth prospects in the defence, maritime, automotive, energy, and chemical industries. Incidentally, statistics released by the International Monetary Fund through its World Economic Outlook Database disclosed that the export value of Middle East was roughly USS1.13 trillion by the end of 2012. This was approximately 6.2 percent of the total worth of global exports. The combined Gross Domestic Product of all Middle Eastern nations was about US $3.96 trillion during the same year.

Opportunities in Top Five Countries

Let us take a look at various investment opportunities in 18 Middle East countries that can help spur exports in the region:

Saudi Arabia is the biggest producer of crude oil worldwide. Despite this stature and riches, the government continues to encourage private sector expansion to reduce the nation’s reliance on oil and increase job opportunities for the country’s growing populace. The Saudi Arabian government offers multiple incentives to foreign investors. The top industry right now is Agriculture.

The climate and terrain does not support much food production. Therefore, most agricultural crops are still imported from neighbouring countries. The only produce that thrives despite the arid and hot weather includes barley, wheat and date palms. There is more demand than supply so you may want to start an enterprise that imports fresh produce from other countries. The other sector is real estate. There is increasing demand for residential units and other buildings as the economy and population keep on growing. The opportunities for property investors are simply overflowing.

The United Arab Emirates specifically the trade capital (Dubai) is a business core. It provides hassle-free access to consumer markets in other Middle East nations, Commonwealth of Independents States, Africa, West Asia, and Eastern Europe. Starting a business at the UAE is not difficult. The progressive administration maintains lenient policies and gives incentives for foreign entrepreneurs. Taxation is nearly non-existent except for tobacco processing, oil and banking. Besides, it formulated a long-term plan that concentrates on growing start-ups.

The foremost industry is construction. The UAE needs engineers and other professionals in the construction and building sector. You can also form businesses that produce or sell raw materials for these two industries. Oil and gas spearhead the country’s economy. There is sufficient room to take in new investors. One option is to begin your businesses from scratch or team up with existing ventures.

Kuwait used to have a law stipulating that any investor should have a local partner with a minimum of 51 percent business equity. However, the enactment of the Foreign Direct Investment Law (8/2001) led to more relaxed requirements. Foreign companies were allowed to incorporate even without a Kuwaiti partner. Foreigners are allowed to participate in industrial activities but not oil/gas exploration and production. So far, the recommended sectors are construction and infrastructure particularly in energy, communications and drainage systems. The other is information technology and development of software applications.

Bahrain boasts of a modern regulatory and legal structure, open border policy, infrastructure, and highly educated workforce. In short, the country has all the basics making it attractive to investors. The most ideal investment opportunity is the petroleum industry particularly processing and refining. A second alternative is transportation. Bahrain is an excellent location for shipping consignment in and out of the country. This is free of tax. It is a trans-shipment port which is the main reason for the presence of many businesses in the country.

Qatar is a relatively small country but the economy is very strong. Policies are also friendly to investors. The first opportunity you may want to put in resources is the manufacture and marketing of building materials for local consumption. This is lucrative since buildings are constructed every day. Information technology is a rewarding business because there is a scarcity of IT specialists in this country.

Prospects in Other Countries

Cyprus has evolved into a reliable global business hub particularly in the services sector. The shipping business can be a good choice because the country ranks among the foremost maritime nations worldwide. Cyprus merchant vessels represent 16 percent of the fleet with European Union flags. The banking industry is also flourishing with a broad range of local and global services like insurance, investments, mutual fund management, and asset administration.

The strict investment policies in Egypt have been relaxed. Businessmen looking at Egypt should consider the cluster of petroleum, energy generation and transmission, information technology, and telecommunications. On the other hand, tourism is the biggest earner in terms of foreign exchange and employs over 10 percent of the Egyptian workforce.

Iran has an abundance of business opportunities. With a population of 78 million and second biggest gas reserves in the world, this country is one of the first three consumers of Muslim food in the Middle East valued at 77 billion one year ago. Iran is also the second largest market for Muslim clothing.

Israel is another very small but highly developed nation. The Jewish nation has become very competitive in the information technology and pharmaceutical sectors.

Lebanon is the main trading partner of the United States, Italy, Germany, France, and China. Starting an enterprise is rather easy although corruption can be a problem. Nonetheless, opportunities are focused on the electricity sector as well as oil and gas exploration.

Business potentials in Northern Cyprus include retail, restaurants, water sports, construction, property management, and real estate.

It is necessary to undergo a long process and submit numerous requirements if you want to launch a business in Oman. However, the primary investment areas in the country consist of tourism, infrastructure and public utility services.

At the recent Palestine Investment Conference (2010), business leaders and private entrepreneurs met regarding potential businesses in the fields of tourism and manufacturing which are the top two. Other sectors were information and communications technology, housing, agribusiness, environment, and tourism.

Turkey has the 16th largest economy in the whole world and the sixth in Europe. The country has a high-growth market with construction and information technology as the top two profitable enterprises for foreigners.

Conclusion

Indeed, there are limitations for entrepreneurs who want to start a business anywhere in the Middle East. Political and economic transformations have opened and closed doors for businesses. Despite the risks, corporations, as well as small and medium enterprises, remain open to options.

These materials are not intended and should not be used as legal advice or other recommendation. If you need a legal opinion on a specific issue or factual situation, please contact a lawyer. Anyone using these materials should not rely on them as a substitute for legal advice.

Remember, no problem has a quick fix solution. Thus, always ensure to consult highly knowledgeable group of professionals whom would provide you with a collective advice, never individual advice. This group advice and approach is unique with CWIIL Group and is based on the overall Management Philosophy of all CWIIL Group Companies.

Consulting CWIIL Group of Companies, for any / all matters relating to investment ensures advice based on highest level of knowledge which are given to you by a team of select research-oriented experts whom each will do their own assessment of your matter, and also assess it together, thus ensuring that in case a mistake has been made by one, it will be noticed and corrected even before it is being passed on to you. Receiving incorrect and un-knowledgeable investment advice can be disastrous and thus should be avoided.

CWIIL Group of Companies is a global group of multi-specialized units with diversified interests and activities, wherein each company is a separate legal entity registered under prevailing laws in different parts of the world. CWIIL Group of Companies Products, Services, Project and Solutions are in a multitude of Verticals including, but not limited to, Infrastructure, Power, Oil & Gas, Legal, Media, Technology, ITES, HR, Shipping, Aviation, Real Estate, Hospitals, Health and Medicine, Education, Funding & Investment, Business and Legal Consultancy, and Public Private Partnerships, and other CWIIL Group Units, worldwide, to name a few.

For Further Queries Feel Free to Contact :

Mr. Mohammad Mukhtar Mustafa,
Deputy Global Director, No. 4,
Strategic Business & Intelligence Division,
Email : deputy.gd.4@cwiilgroup.eu
Voice : +45.8176.1923
Connect : LinkedIn – Twitter – Facebook – Quora

For Queries Specific to Middle East & North Africa :
Email : mena@cwiilgroup.com , hq@cwiilgroup.eu
Web : www.cwiilgroup.com , www.cwiilgroup.eu

For Any / All Other Queries :
CWIIL Group Global Regional Headquarters Denmark,
Address : No. 1, Klokkebjergevej, DK6900 Skjern, Denmark
Voice : +45.5148.3608
Fax : +45.7014.1498
Email : corpcomm@cwiilgroup.eu
Web : www.cwiilgroup.eu
Connect : LinkedIn – Twitter – Facebook – Quora

Office Hours :
Monday to Friday : 10.00 – 17.00 CET.
Saturday : 10.00 – 14.00 CET.
Sunday : Closed.

The Corporate Communications Team would require minimum a fortnight for Reviewing & Responding to Queries, which please note.