INTERVIEW - UAE firm plans to desalinise farmland in Pakistan

DUBAI (Reuters) - UAE-based Magnetic Technologies is working with the Pakistani government to reduce the salinity of 6 million hectares of farmland currently unsuitable for farming, the firm’s managing director told Reuters.

“Food security is a growing concern worldwide and we are at a point right now where increasing areas used for farming is key to sustain future food supplies,” Junaid Khoory said in an interview.

The firm plans to sell magnetic irrigation systems which boosts the ability of water to absorb salts, allowing it to “flush” the land, he added.

Pakistan is looking for ways to increase its agriculture yields. Last year, the Asian country offered to lease or sell 1 million hectares to foreign investors as it looked to encourage technology transfer. For foreign investors, the deals were a chance to improve food supply security.

“Farmland is becoming a scarce resource and we get approached by a lot of countries looking to increase their yields and by using magnetic technologies we increase yields by around 30 percent,” said Khoory.

The firm was also working to supply equipment to Egypt’s organic food producer Sekem Group, he said.

It aimed to expand into Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar and Ethiopia, which also have high salinity levels in land, he said.

Khoory said the magnetic technology was yet to become mainstream in agriculture.

“The main problem is that people are not convinced that something like this can work, that’s why we have to sell them results and not the technical details of how it works,” he said.

“In the UAE for example we can help increase the yield of the crops we already have like palm trees... we can even grow new crops like coconuts which we can’t have right now because of high salt levels,” said Khoory.

Editing by James Jukwey