UAE, FAO Join Forces to Eradicate Red Palm Weevil in MENA Region


Ministry of Climate Change and Environment and Khalifa Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology at UAE University sign a funding agreement with the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations to eliminate highly destructive pest

Dubai UAE: The UAE has taken an important step forward in supporting the region to eradicate the red palm weevil – a highly destructive pest that blights palm trees – with the signing of a funding agreement between the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) and the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE) and Khalifa Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (KCGEB) at UAE University.

Through the funding agreement, MOCCAE will provide financial support to the Red Palm Weevil Trust Fund related to the FAO regional programme on red palm weevil eradication and to the KCGEB in their efforts to control the transboundary insect and reduce palm tree losses in the Middle East and North Africa. The final objective is the eventual eradication of the insect from the region, as Mauritania managed to do with technical assistance from FAO.   

“The red palm weevil is an invasive transboundary insect, which afflicts more than 40 palm species – including date palms – causing considerable damage in the UAE, Gulf Countries, and across the region. This agreement builds on a campaign initiated by MOCCAE in 2019 to leverage the latest technology to eradicate the weevil, thereby alleviating the socio-economic threat it poses – especially to rural communities,” said Her Excellency Mariam bint Mohammed Almheirhi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment.

“We are delighted to have the opportunity to use the expertise of the Khalifa Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology to address a significant issue for the UAE and other countries. The red palm weevil has destroyed large numbers of palm trees and represents an ongoing threat to livelihoods. This funding agreement will support the knowledge transfer and capacity building activities for the sustainable management of the red palm weevil in the region,” said Professor Khaled Amiri, Director of KCGEB.

“This Funding Agreement emphasises the importance of improving various aspects of food security for the region. In line with our global mandate to promote food security and agricultural development, we are very happy to be extending our mutual cooperation in this area of pest control. Our partnership aims to control the red palm weevil in the areas that are afflicted in the Middle East and North Africa  – a significant problem with 90 percent of the world’s dates being grown in the region. It will enhance efforts at the regional level for supporting the integrated and sustainable management programmes to control the pest, reduce its devastating impact on the environment and food security, and alleviate its socio-economic impact on rural communities,” said His Excellency Dr Abdulhakim Rajab Elwaer, FAO Assistant Director General and Regional Representative for the Near East and North Africa.

Under the terms of the agreement, MOCCAE will channel one million USD to KCGEB to develop genetic methods to control the red palm weevil. The agreement aims to support the FAO regional trust fund program with one million USD to support countries to control and contain the spread of and eventually eradicate this transboundary pest, and enhance regional efforts aimed at controlling and reducing its devastating effects on the environment, food security, and livelihoods.

The partnership is a tangible result of the UAE’s commitment to promoting and protecting the date palm industry. The UAE announced its support to FAO’s Red Palm Weevil Trust Fund at the Conference of Agriculture Ministers of the World’s Date Producing and Processing Countries, organized by the Khalifa International Date Palm Award and Agricultural Innovation in collaboration with the FAO and MOCCAE in March 2019.