Abu Dhabi sets up new firm to stockpile emergency food reserves

Silal will also research new desert farming technology that local farmers could use to boost their produce

The UAE government is looking to boost local food production and reduce reliance on imports. Smart Acres
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Abu Dhabi has set up a company to find new supply chains, boost yields of essential produce and oversee an emergency food reserve for the population.

ADQ, a government-affiliated holding company, has set up Silal to further the country’s food security drive.

Silal will perform several functions, including:

– conducting research and development into desert farming technology to support smaller, local farmers growing fruit and vegetables

– securing supply chains for essential food

– managing and securing strategic reserves of emergency food supplies

Silal, which means “baskets” in Arabic, will be led by Jamal Salem Al Dhaheri, as chief executive.

“Silal will facilitate sustained production, sourcing and distribution of essential foods in Abu Dhabi for the benefit of retailers, farmers and the community,” he said.

“The name Silal... denotes the variety and abundance of produce that is at the core of what the new company will deliver. Our team will work collaboratively across the entire value chain to ensure an adequate, reliable supply of fresh and longer-life food items for our local communities.”

Khalifa Sultan Al Suwaidi, chief investment officer at ADQ, said: “The creation of Silal helps to ensure that the UAE population has access to safe, sufficient and nutritious food at affordable prices.

“Silal also complements ADQ’s existing investments in the food and agriculture sector as we seek to expand this important economic cluster. Under Jamal’s leadership, Silal will benefit from his depth of industry experience as we deliver upon this key national initiative.”

Earlier this year, ADQ acquired a 50 per cent stake in Al Dahra Holding Company, an agribusiness specialising in animal feed and essential food commodities. It also owns Agthia and Al Foah, which produce a variety of food and beverages, including dates and date products.

Since the coronavirus outbreak, the UAE government has looked to boost local food production and reduce the need for imports, on which the country has long relied.

Speaking last month, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, said the challenges of the pandemic have highlighted the crucial need for the country to make its food and water security strategy a top priority.

He said: “Food and water security is part of our national security... and requires us to enhance national awareness on the importance of preserving our resources and creating a self-sufficient system.”

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