A UAE food security task force has launched an action plan to cut down on waste, prioritise local produce in the marketplace and embrace technology to tackle pressing challenges facing the country and the world.
The Emirates Food Security Council, of which Mariam Al Mheiri, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, is chairwoman, set out a list of recommendations at its first meeting of the year.
The council called for agriculture and food data to be used at local and federal levels to inform decision-making, a unified mechanism to be established to address food waste, support to be given to agriculture accelerator programmes and the adoption of price controls on food imports that compete with local products.
The series of measures also included incentivising the hospitality and catering sector to buy local agricultural products and regulating promotions by major retailers that hinder the competitiveness and profitability of local products.
The council also encouraged an increased focus on research and development for modern technology to help agriculture in the Middle East climate.
Council members recommended a dedicated team be set up to develop and introduce solutions to food security challenges within six months.
A number of ministries were represented at the meeting. They included the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, the Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure, the Ministry of Health and Prevention, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Industry and Advanced Technology, along with several local departments.
Ms Al Mheiri said the council had an integral role to play in achieving the goals of the UAE’s National Food Security Strategy 2051.
“The UAE works to meet its goal of ranking at the top of the Global Food Security Index by 2051 through utilising data to inform strategies that advance the transition to a sustainable future, and ensuring the provision of safe and healthy food at affordable prices,” she said.
“We look forward to more achievements in the food security space in 2022.
“We must understand urgent global challenges if we want to confront them and overcome food insecurity. This requires everyone to view food from a holistic perspective as a pivotal factor in achieving a qualitative shift towards a better future, which the country is driving by investing in agritech and collaborating with international organisations, agricultural entities and other stakeholders.”
Ms Al Mheiri said food security was a priority for the Emirates and stressed the importance of supporting the sector in the face of the pandemic and conflicts that are disrupting global supply chains.
The UAE is developing action plans to improve food security, including that of water, by developing local agriculture and investing in high-tech farming methods that can boost production in its arid climate.
The National Food Security Strategy 2051 aims to put the UAE at the top of the Global Food Security Index, forge international partnerships to diversify food sources, improve nutrition and introduce legislation to reduce waste.