"Turning the desert green"

The UAE relies heavily on food imports, with over 85 percent of its food imported every year. The nation has long vowed to reduce its reliance on food imports through a variety of initiatives introduced to encourage sustainability and to invest in technologies to find a solution to food security. Although the UAE has been addressing issues around food security for a number of years, the Coronavirus pandemic has only sharpened the focus on this topic.

In 2018, Abu Dhabi launched the National Food Security Strategy 2051 with the main aim of ensuring access to safe food through sustainable agricultural practices. This was followed by the establishment of the Abu Dhabi Agriculture and Food Safety Authority by Law No. 7 of 2019. The Authority's main aim is to encourage sustainable agriculture and enhance biosecurity that maintains animal and plant health.

In further support of the strategy, an AgTech Park is opening up under the Abu Dhabi Ports’ Industrial Cities and Free Zone Cluster. Not only is this the UAE’s first fresh produce AgTech Park, but the new venture by Abu Dhabi’s holding company ADQ will also position the UAE as the region's leading farming hub. The expected annual production capacity at the AgTech Park for fresh fruits and vegetables is 39-kilo tonnes. This is a clear example of the UAE’s serious commitment and investment in technology to help sustainability.

Another testament to Abu Dhabi's investment into agricultural technology is Pure Harvest Smart Farms. It was one of the three Ag Tech companies that the ADIO invested in as part of the ADIO's Innovation Programme in 2020. The Dh152 million funding has helped Pure Harvest Smart Farms advance its technology that is used in the process of growing fresh fruits and vegetables in controlled environments. Its unique proprietary climate management system builds on the data collected during the time it has operated in the UAE to provide improve the conditions used to grow produce. Following the Ag Tech company's USD 60 million Sukuk financing solution in March 2021, Pure Harvest Smart Farms has expanded to another location in Al Ain. In October 2021, the company announced a joint venture with PlanTFarm to design and operate vertical farms in hypermarkets and grocery stores to sell the produce directly to customers.

Read the complete article at www.khaleejtimes.com.

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