2012 outlook for agriculture

The outlook for agriculture in 2012.

Passion fruits ripen at the Abu Dhabi Organic Farm, which grows salad vegetables, citrus fruits, mulberry, strawberries and figs. Andrew Henderson / The National
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By the end of 2012 all organic food should be certified under laws currently being drawn up by food authorities.

In Abu Dhabi, locally made food products will bear "traffic light" nutritional labels - based on systems already in Europe and the US, and intended to promote healthy eating and lower the country's sky-high obesity rates. Green will represent healthy food, red will show foods that are high in calories and fat, and orange and yellow will indicate foods that should be eaten in moderation.

School canteens have also been told to increase the variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains on offer in their canteens.

The Ministry of Environment and Water is expected to produce 10 million fingerlings from an initiative run at its Marine Resources Research Centre in Umm Al Qaiwain by the end of the year as it steps up its efforts to reduce overfishing.

Despite lower global food prices - which, according to the UN, were last month 10 per cent off February's 11-year high - experts say prices are still expected to increase this year. "Global prices of commodities such as wheat and corn have tripled in recent years," said Sean Evers, managing partner of the communications firm Gulf Intelligence. "Since 2000, the index has risen from 90 to 237, and it is expected to increase five times or more in the next two years."

And it should be a good year for vegetarians, with the support group Meveg planning to certify the country's vegetarian restaurants by the end of this year.