Dubai leading UAE’s vision for food security


Globally, agriculture is the main source of food supply. Creating a food secure future continues to be a daunting task, Dubai acknowledges. This shows why the emirate is using emerging technologies to revive the country’s agricultural sector. “Smart agriculture is the way forward to achieve food security,” says Mariam Al Mheiri, Minister of Climate Change and Environment of the United Arab Emirates and Minister of State for Food Security.

According to experts, smart farming practices are globally relevant, and even more so in countries like the UAE due to their geographical conditions. “The idea is to use minimum resources for maximum yield, reducing waste wherever possible. New era technologies are helping and here we are,” Al Mheiri articulates when talking about precision agriculture. , which concerns all cutting-edge “agritech” fields such as nanotechnology, biotechnology, robotics and AI.

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“We want to use drones and sensors to understand precisely what each acre of land needs and what it doesn’t. This will reduce inputs and their carbon footprint,” adds Al Mheiri. As a result, the UAE, she says, has doubled its investment in research and development to ensure sustainable and innovative farming practices. Many companies established in the United Arab Emirates use funds for innovation in addition to providing technology to neighboring countries, she reveals.

Data from the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment shows that the UAE has more than 177 advanced farms that use modern agricultural technologies and hydroponics and more than 100 entities that practice organic farming. Congratulating the UAE on the overhaul of its agricultural landscape, Henry Gordon-Smith, CEO and Managing Director of Agricture, a global urban agriculture consultancy, says the country has the perfect conditions to be the world leader in agriculture. commercial urban agriculture.

The UAE, he said, in particular has vast potential in the use of controlled environments in agricultural technologies. Gordon-Smith, however, warns that the UAE should foster AgTech among young people, creating viable career paths. Al-Mheiri agrees: “We are determined to attract young Emiratis to the agricultural sector. I don’t call them farmers. Instead, I call them agro-technologists because farming is a cool thing to do.

The United Arab Emirates, which imports 85% of its food, has made strategic interventions to improve the efficiency of its farms in order to achieve self-sufficiency. As part of our Food Security Strategy 2051, the country aims to increase average farm income and farm labor by 10 and 5 percent respectively, in addition to reducing the amount of water used for irrigation. The Food Tech Valley further reinforces the country’s commitment to becoming a global leader in sustainable food production.

Dubai, the UAE’s springboard for Agritech, meanwhile saw an 11% increase in food trade in 2021, with the total value reaching 57 billion dirhams. The emirate’s exports also jumped by 11.3% to 10.8 billion Dh while re-exports increased by 10% to 7.9 billion Dh. “We have highlighted the importance of food security as a key element of overall development,” confirms Hassan Al Hashemi, vice president of international relations at the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

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The steady growth of UAE’s F&B exports can be seen as a sign of the maturing of the country’s agribusiness sector. “This is in line with our national food security agenda and Dubai Chamber is committed to providing global opportunities for catering businesses by strengthening Dubai’s position as a preferred re-export hub for food products,” Al reiterates. Hashemi explaining how different elements play a central role. in revitalizing the country’s agricultural sector.

The UAE is, without a doubt, sowing the seeds of Agritech. The strategy, the country hopes, would provide new job opportunities and bring in US$6 billion to the country’s economy. The country’s food and beverage sector grew steadily to $20 billion in the first 9 months of 2021, according to data from the Dubai Chamber. “We know there are no shortcuts to achieving food security,” says Al Mheiri. This means that it is a long-term battle that the UAE would fight using Dubai’s technological expertise.

Disclaimer: This article is part of a featured content series on business in Dubai

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