The Ministry of Climate Change and Environment and Emirates Development Bank have signed an initial pact to finance “modern” agricultural start-ups and small and medium enterprises as the UAE seeks to strengthen its food security.
The two parties will identify collaboration opportunities in food security and how best to support SMEs and start-ups, the ministry and EDB said on Wednesday.
EDB will finance agricultural businesses while the ministry will host seminars and introductory courses on modern agricultural methods and technology, highlighting their importance for food security and the sustainability of the sector, they said.
A joint committee will be formed to oversee the enforcement of the agreement.
“Improving local agricultural production through promoting the adoption of modern agriculture is a priority for [the ministry] in line with its strategy to enhance food security,” said Mohammed Alameeri, assistant undersecretary for the food diversity sector at the ministry.
“The agreement with EDB falls within the ministry’s efforts to join forces with strategic partners to explore opportunities that drive agricultural and fisheries production, and launch appropriate financing schemes to attract entrepreneurs.”
The pact is part of efforts to contribute to the UAE’s sustainable economic development and attainment of food security — one of EDB’s five priority sectors.
The UAE has been accelerating its support of AgriTech companies to reduce reliance on food imports, which are thought to make up about 90 per cent of food consumed in the country.
UAE residents are already seeing evidence of recent efforts to localise agriculture, with farm produce grown in the country a common sight at farmers' markets or on dining menus.
Much of this has surfaced over the past few years as vertical and hydroponic farming ventures, research and cloud-seeding bear fruit.
The pact is in line with the ministry's efforts to increase local agricultural production to boost the sector’s contribution to the UAE’s food security.
It is also aligned with the EDB's focus on supporting sectors that diversify the economy's non-oil gross domestic product, as well as developing sectors that are a national priority for economic self-reliance and sustainable growth.
The agreement is “in line with our efforts to support the food security sector that includes agriculture, fisheries, aquaculture and water desalination, as well as other tech-based food and agricultural solutions”, EDB chief executive Ahmed Al Naqbi said.
“We are confident that our partnership with [the ministry] will contribute to further accelerating the growth of this sector, and we will work closely together to explore areas of collaboration and provide flexible and competitive financing and non-financing solutions to support companies operating in this sector.”