UAE’s AgTech potential takes center stage at National Food System Summit

The potential of the UAE’s advanced agricultural technology sector to meet the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) was a key topic taking center stage at the UAE National Food System Summit Dialogue, which was held virtually recently. Hosted by Mariam Hareb Almheiri, Minister of State for Food Security, the dialogue under the theme ‘Special Zones for Modern Farming and Access to Technology’ formed a preliminary event to the UN’s Food Systems Summit, which is scheduled to take place in September.
The summit was attended by representatives from federal government entities, local authorities, the private sector, international organizations, academia, farmers, and the youth. During the conversations, Almheiri highlighted that the drive to meeting the SDGs was in lockstep with the UAE’s ambition to be a global hub of innovation-driven food security, as outlined in its National Food Security Strategy 2051.

"The adoption and implementation of technology throughout the food value chain represent not only the best means of enhancing our own country’s food security, but it also enables us to become a valuable knowledge resource in this vital area of agriculture – an area that the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation recognizes as essential to meeting the entire array of SDGs," she said.

The UAE minister added, "As the UN has pointed out, the global community is currently, of course, to be able to meet its Sustainable Development Agenda by 2030, with the global pandemic being one major interrupter that is threatening to push the target further into the distance. Nothing short of a sustained and concerted attempt by all stakeholders – governments, NGOs, and private citizens - is needed to radically transform the way we produce, value, and interact with food.

"By taking this concept even further and encouraging citizens to produce food in their own homes, we move them from being consumers to 'prosumers,' in the process inculcating within them a heightened awareness of the value of food," Almheiri noted.

Attention was also drawn to the FoodTech Valley, a dedicated AgTech city launched on 1st May 1 this year. Under construction in the Warsan area in Dubai, over 18 million square feet of land, FoodTech Valley has been created to spearhead innovation and create collaborative networks to lead regional transformation in food systems.

The city aims to a hub for future clean tech-based food and agricultural products and, in the process, enable the country to become a leading exporter of sustainable food systems. It will accelerate self-sufficiency to a certain degree in fresh food produce and reduce wastage of resources by applying research and modern technologies to the latest farming techniques, such as vertical farming, cellular agriculture, and hydroponics.

The city will also produce over 300 varieties of crops using modern farming techniques and the latest agri-technologies.

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