ADQ-backed Silal teams up with Abu Dhabi venture company Dana Global to boost food sector

The partnership aims to foster innovation in the emirate's agriculture ecosystem

Mariam Almheiri, UAE Minister of Minister of Climate Change and Environment, witnessing the signing ceremony between Katie Wachsberger, co-founder and chief operating officer of Dana Global, and Salmeen Obaid Alameri, chief executive of Silal. Photo: Dana Global
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ADQ-backed agricultural technology company Silal has teamed up with Abu Dhabi-based investment platform Dana Global to use the latest technology to address challenges faced by the food industry.

The partnership, which supports the UAE's National Food Security Strategy, is intended to foster innovation in Abu Dhabi’s agriculture ecosystem, which in turn will position the emirate as a centre for AgriTech and provide solutions for the wider Mena region, Dana Global said on Wednesday.

The companies also plan to address resource scarcity and local production issues by using the advantages of pilot projects and trials, data collection and entrepreneurship.

“The Middle East has a clear and present risk of major food insecurity, and doing nothing is not an option,” said Katie Wachsberger, co-founder and chief operating officer of Dana Global.

“Via this partnership, we can better support the incredible entrepreneurs we work with, most of whom are women from the region.

“Complementing the beta sites we are already operating, we plan to launch new pilots and collect vital data to foster ecosystem growth and encourage entrepreneurs to make their dreams a reality.”

Global food prices started to rise in 2020 when businesses shut down after the onset of the coronavirus pandemic and this strained supply chains, Deep Knowledge Analytics said in a recent report.

High food prices have exposed communities around the world to hunger, according to the UN's Food and Agricultural Organisation.

In particular, more than 141 million people in the Arab world face food insecurity, Kristalina Georgieva, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, said in October.

The global food crisis was exacerbated by Russia's war in Ukraine, which has disrupted crop supplies, exposing 48 countries to risks, she said at the time.

The programme between Dana Global and Silal will revolve around agricultural projects, from irrigation and crop optimisation to supply chain and post-harvest activities, the companies said.

The projects will be scaled up across small and locally owned farms in developing markets to make them feasible, with cost efficiency as a priority, the companies said.

The two companies will initiate programmes to regenerate agricultural land and reclaim currently unusable areas from the desert.

They will also introduce carbon credit incentives for farmers in the UAE, as part of the country's preparations to host the Cop28 climate change summit next year.

Dana Global supports women-led start-ups in the desert technology field through regional collaboration, mentorship and funding.

In June, Dana signed a preliminary agreement with Abu Dhabi's Masdar City to set up testing grounds that AgriTech start-ups can use to develop ideas to the product stage. It plans to host five pilots from January.

Silal was formed in 2020 and is part of Abu Dhabi holding company ADQ's portfolio that is aimed at diversifying food sources and stimulating local agriculture production.

ADQ has also continued to grow its efforts in the sector. In March, it agreed to acquire a majority stake in fresh fruit producer and distributor Unifrutti Group.

Updated: December 07, 2022, 10:35 AM