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UAE adopts modern technology, innovation in agriculture for future food security

Khaleej Times logo Khaleej Times 27/10/2021 Ismail Sebugwaawo
The UAE has always been at the forefront of ensuring food and water security in the country. - Supplied photo by VeggiTech. © Provided by Khaleej Times The UAE has always been at the forefront of ensuring food and water security in the country. - Supplied photo by VeggiTech.

The UAE is using modern technology and innovation in agriculture as it looks forward to producing its own food so as to reduce relying on imported food products in the future, said Mariam Almheiri, Minister for Climate Change and Environment.

During a virtual discussion on UAE’s climate strategy and food security on Tuesday evening, Almheiri noted that the UAE was implementing a sustainable approach to food security by adopting modern technology and innovation as an integral aspect of its National Food Security Strategy.

“This strategy includes launching numerous initiatives that utilise modern agricultural technology – or ‘AgTech’ – that is powered by research and development to find solutions to climate and environmental challenges of the current food systems,” she said.

More than 90 percent of the food in the UAE is being imported from various countries across the world.

She noted that one of the potential projects that will bring overall benefit to economy, environment and food security is Abu Dhabi’s ambitious Seawater Energy and Agriculture System (SEAS) project that aims at producing alternative aviation biofuel along with seafood.

The SEAS projects will bolster the economy by supporting the growth of multiple sectors in the country, such as aviation, oil refining, agriculture and aquaculture, according to Almheiri.

“The project is creating a new agriculture industry using salt water and desert land to grow salt-resistant cash crops producing biofuel in the UAE,” she said.

The UAE minister explained that greenhouses, closed-system firms, closed-environment agriculture, vertical farms that can control the environment are some of the innovative agricultural systems picking up in the country as well, not only for the production of vegetables but also on the side of aquaculture.

She noted that the Agricultural Innovation Mission for Climate (AIM for Climate) initiative also represents an important step towards activating a global movement that aims to enhance food security, achieve global climate targets, and support the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.

The UAE and the United States, with support from the United Kingdom and other nations, had in April this year announced the Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate at President Biden’s Leaders Summit on Climate.

The initiative aims to increase and accelerate global agricultural innovation and research and development (R&D) over the next five years, to address climate change.

AIM for Climate seeks to address the principal challenges related to the agricultural sector and climate change, including emissions, food security, and water security.

“We are proud to take part in this pioneering initiative, which contributes to the adoption of clean and renewable energy to reduce carbon emissions and facilitates the transition towards sustainable food systems,” said Almheiri.

Lana Nusseibeh, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the UAE to the United Nations said that climate change was negatively impacting many nations and that climate security was an issue that need to be addressed as a global peace and security issue.

“The UAE has championed things like renewable energy, net-zero climate security as a way of demonstrating that we need counter-intuitive approach at this moment to increase global prosperity, global security through climate action,” she said.

Almheiri added that the UAE’s investments in renewables and climate smart-agriculture will generate wealth, jobs, stability as it’s an integral part of peace and security conversation at the security council.

The officials also discussed the UAE’s climate strategy, the nation’s participation at COP26 in Glasgow, and the global implications of the country’s role in moving the needle on climate action. 

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