The plan is an important point on the agenda at the 10-11 May Arab-South American presidential summit in Brazil.

The summit will "boost cooperation relationships in science and technology" between Arab and South American states, said Evertor Lucero, a Science and Technology Ministry official.

Cultivation of drought-resistant species might be one of the first projects of mutual interest to the Arab and South American nations, said Lucero, quoted by state news agency Agencia Brasil.

Via Brazil's agro-food research business Embrapa in particular, biotechnology is likely to be a major area where the two sides cooperate.

Drought-stricken regions


At last September's meeting of Arab and South American scientists in Fortaleza into water resource management, "the scientific communities got together to identify capabilities and examine interest in joint projects", Lucero added.

"[The summit will] boost cooperation relationships in science and technology [between Arab and South American states]

Evertor Lucero,
Brazilian Science and Technology Ministry official

One of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's personal ambitions concerns Brazil's "sertao" region - a massive semi-arid region in the northeast and one of his country's most inhospitable places.

Lula wants an old project to be confirmed in which water would be diverted from the San Francisco river to drought-stricken regions.

And Brazilian diplomats say they hope negotiations will move forward during the summit on a proposed Libyan $450 million investment in irrigation projects for northeastern Bahia state.

Talks were initiated during Lula's tour of five Arab countries in December 2003.