The UAE is in the final phase of its national food security plan, which will be introduced soon, the country's Minister for Food Security said.
Mariam Al Mehairi, speaking to The National during the second annual Agriscape exhibition in Abu Dhabi yesterday, said there is work to be done if the country is to achieve its aim of breaking into the top 10 in the Global Food Security Index by 2021.
The UAE imports the vast majority of its food and ranks 31 in the global index.
A date for the plan is yet to be announced, but it will rest on four development pillars.
First is the advancement across the globe, from Europe to Africa, of agribusiness that involves UAE companies. A strategy that was put into action yesterday when the UAE signed an agreement with Uganda to establish an agricultural free zone for Emirati companies in the country.
Second, steps will be taken to increase domestic agricultural production using technology, complementing the commitment made by Dubai to build 12 vertical farms.
Third, the UAE plans to reduce food waste, with the target of halving it by 2030.
The final pillar concerns food safety and nutrition. "We need to give the community the tools to allow them to make better nutritional choices," Ms Al Mehairi said.
Despite the UAE proving its dedication to food security by, among other things, setting up the post of Minister for Food Security last year, the country still faces some challenges, including water scarcity.
Khadim Al Darei, deputy chairman of Aldahara, sponsor of this year’s Agriscape, said that the UAE was unable to grow “grain, wheat, barley and other crops” because of the harsh environment.
Climate change poses a key challenge to food, with increasingly unpredictable weather – from floods to droughts – affecting agricultural land and destroying jobs.
The world population will exceed 10 billion by 2050, sparking a race to raise yields.
In an attempt to diversify its economy, the Emirates is looking for new partnerships to ensure a reliable food supply. "There are plenty of opportunities that haven't been tapped in Africa and Eastern Europe," Ms Al Mehairi said.
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