Large-scale governmental initiatives and commercial advantages such as employment opportunities, as well as globally appealing investment opportunities, mean that scalable agri-tech solutions are attracting increasing attention from major players in this space, writes Kenny McCrae, managing director at International Real Estate Partners.
A key regional driver of agri-tech is the UAE, which understands the importance of modern technology to sustain long-term food security and become less reliant on food imports.
In line with this, the UAE announced its National Food Security Strategy in 2018, with the vision to become a hub for innovation-driven food security by 2051. Such governmental initiatives are crucial to driving agri-tech progress throughout the region and beyond.
A majority – nearly 85% – of produce is imported into the GCC and, ordinarily, one-third of food produced spoils or is wasted before it hits consumers' tables. Consequently, the pandemic became a catalyst to implement more sustainable, long-term food security strategies. As an example, International Real Estate Partners' (IREP) subsidiary IREPfarm, which offers combined bespoke food security and real estate solutions, has witnessed an increased interest in agri-tech solutions since the outbreak of the pandemic.
Why do we need agri-tech?
The UAE and the wider GCC region are areas of the world characterized by high temperatures, soil with high salinity, and low annual rainfall. The GCC’s dependency on food imports to meet domestic demand makes the region heavily reliant on healthy and uninterrupted supply chains. These can easily become fragile as a result of political and economic instability.
In addition, imported goods reach end-consumers through a long chain of production, packaging, processing, distribution, and retail. Each of these touch-points represents a risk for food to be spoilt or even to become contaminated – a heightened risk in times of a global pandemic.
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