The UAE launched the National Food Security Strategy 2051 which aims to achieve zero hunger by ensuring access to safe, nutritious and sufficient food all year round throughout the world. The strategy specifically aims to implement resilient agricultural practices that increase productivity and production, that help maintain ecosystems. Read more about the National Food Security Strategy 2051.
The UAE's geographical location, continuing population growth and lack of arable land exert great pressure on the agricultural sector.
The UAE has made several steps to achieve sustainable development in the agriculture sector and food security, these include:
The Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development has launched a programme called 'Ziraai' to support citizens working in the agricultural sector by providing training and marketing services and giving interest-free loan of up to AED 1 million to each farmer. This programme aims to promote growth in the agricultural sector and help farmers to improve the marketability, profitability and efficiency of their farms through cutting-edge technologies such as hydroponics systems that can reduce water consumption by up to 80 per cent.
Adoption of organic and local farming as a healthier option
The UAE adopted organic farming to promote healthier production. Ministry Climate Change and Environment has been increasing acreage under organic farming by 5 per cent annually.
Further, Dubai Municipality ran an initiative called 'Grow Your Food'. The initiative aimed to reduce agriculture imports and build a happy and sustainable city through the promotion of food security.
Abu Dhabi runs a 50-hectare Al Rawafed Agriculture Organic Farm which supplies nearly ten tonnes of fresh produce to supermarkets and restaurants daily. It is one of the biggest local sources of organic products in the country alongside Greenheart Organic Farms and Yas Farm.
Several smart farming ventures have come up in recent years using Dutch hydroponics farming techniques, a process of growing plants in solutions rather than in soil.
The agri-tech start-up, which raised USD 1.1 million (AED 4 million) from Abu Dhabi-based Shorooq Investments aims to cultivate crops in glasshouses to deal with the challenges of year-round production.
At the Global Forum for Innovations in Agriculture, Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority showcased its protected agriculture project, which runs on recycled water treated with UV rays and has its own cooling system, thus not affected by climate change.
The International Centre for Biosaline Agriculture (Icba), a non-profit research facility at Dubai's Zayed University, showcased a New Generation Greenhouse that could triple crop products of fruits and vegetables in the UAE while using 90 per cent less water and 50 per cent less energy.
restructure the agricultural sector with a view to make it more sustainable
reduce harmful effects on the environment and the pressure on natural resources
ensure fair income for the farmers and increase their competitiveness in the market
focus on products that Abu Dhabi has a competitive edge on
improve the quality of agricultural products
strengthen national productivity for better food security.
In order to achieve these aims, ADAFCA launched the Abu Dhabi Farmers' Services Centre (ADFSC) in 2009. The centre is in charge of reducing water usage in the agricultural sector, implement innovative methods and boost production.
According to 2015 survey by ADFSC, 16 per cent of all fruits and vegetables are now sourced locally and the market is estimated to have a size of 1.05 million tonnes of AED 2.4 billion value.
For the 2015-2016 season, farmers were expected to supply an estimated 31,050 tonnes of class one produce, which requires 4,635 acres for open field crops and 1,891 acres for greenhouse crops.
Investing in agriculture projects abroad
In an effort to secure food supplies and safeguard against market fluctuations, the government also has been investing greatly in agriculture projects abroad, especially in Vietnam, Cambodia, Egypt, Pakistan, Romania, Serbia, Namibia, Sudan and the Americas.
Agricultural Innovation Centre
In 2014, Ministry of Climate Change and Environment launched Agricultural Innovation Centre in Al-Dhaid, Sharjah. The centre is part of the ministry’s strategy to enhance food safety in the country, promote sustainability of local production through innovation, research work and discovery of new dimensions of the local agricultural sector.
The centre coordinates with top-notch international centres specialising in agricultural technologies through the execution of joint scientific research and partnership programmes and schemes to develop the country’s agricultural system.
Partnerships with international organisations
Ministry of Climate Change and Environment is currently working with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations to develop a comprehensive food diversification policy for the UAE, in consultation with relevant UAE stakeholders.
Through this partnership, the UAE aims to address the whole food value chain to ensure long-term food security of the country, both imported and domestically produced food, as well as consumption and disposal of food, in which prevention and reduction of food waste is a critical element.
Food processing sector
According to Abu Dhabi Food Security Centre, 70 per cent of some imported food items are re-exported from the UAE. The geographical location, political stability, good relations with many foreign countries and a developed infrastructure support the food-processing sector and food export trade, which in turn helps secure food security.
Promoting healthy life styles
The UAE is making huge efforts to address malnutrition. Under Vision 2021, the Government will intensify its fight against lifestyle diseases, where early intervention to change habits that can dramatically improve citizens' prospects for quality of life will be adopted.
Safety of food
The UAE food safety law establishes key requirements for an effective system to ensure the protection of public health and consumers. The law imposes strict penalties on those found to be endangering food safety across the UAE.
The law authorises Ministry of Economy to impose fines of up to AED 100,000 for other offences, provided that these offences are regulated by the Cabinet.
Some aspects of the food law
No food may be imported into the country for the first time without approval of Ministry of Climate Change and Environment
Those dealing in food or products that contain pork or alcohol or any of their by-products without permission face a prison term of not less than a month and a fine of up to AED 500,000
Misleading consumers by publishing a false description of food or using incorrect labels will attract a fine ranging from AED 10,000 to 100,000
Local government entities responsible for food safety
Municipalities oversee food safety requirements and ensure that products have correct labels and expiry dates for consumption.
They conduct random inspections across all foodstuff stores and restaurants to ensure the quality of food supplied and to ensure that it is suitable for people to eat.
Healthy nutrition-mother given breaks for breast-feeding
In order to ensure healthier upbringing of children, the UAE has announced a three-month paid maternity leave for Federal Government employees, in addition to two hours' break daily for breastfeeding.
H. H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE issued Federal Law No. 17 of 2016, amending some articles under Law 11 of 2008, regarding human resources of the federal government.
According to Article 53 of the amended law, confirmed female employees of the Federal Government will be granted a three-month paid maternity leave. They are also entitled to a two-hour break daily to breastfeed their babies for a period of four months from the date of delivery.
In the emirate of Abu Dhabi, the law entitles women to three months of paid maternity leave and gives them two hours of leave a day, for one year starting from the day of birth to take care of their newborns.
In the emirate of Dubai, the Government extended maternity leave for employees of Dubai Government to three months. It also allows new mothers two hours off work per day to breastfeed their babies and paid leave for mothers of children with special needs.
In addition, the emirates of Sharjah and Ras Al Khaimah grant their employees three months' maternity leave.
Sharjah gives two hours' break for breastfeeding for six months, while Ras Al Khaimah gives two hours' break for breastfeeding for one whole year.
Initiatives to fight hunger locally and globally
The UAE is also a major donor to many countries affected by malnutrition. It aims for international development and food security. In 2016, the UAE spent AED15.23 billion worth of development assistance.
Year of Giving 2017
Since its establishment, the UAE is known for its humanitarian approach as well as providing aid. The UAE continues to carry forward the humanitarian legacy of its Founding Father the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan and his notable humanitarian achievements since the establishment of the country.
The declaration of the Year of Giving intends to boost the culture of giving as it represents one of the most important merits of the UAE's personality and its institutions.
Food Bank initiative
H. H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai launched the UAE Food Bank as a humanitarian foundation.
The idea behind this step is to distribute food to those in need while eliminating wastage of food. Surplus fresh and dry foods will go to charities that feed the needy in the UAE and abroad. The initiative promotes the UAE's values of generosity.
Preservation of Grace
Emirates Red Crescent initiated a project called Preservation of Grace. Under this project, unused/discarded items such as food, clothes, furniture and medicine that are in good condition are given to those who need them. This project aims at reducing wastage and re-using and recycling items.
Ministry of Climate change and Environment launched many initiatives to reduce food waste and end hunger. These include:
The Fish Box initiative: Under this initiative, fish donated by fishermen and confiscated fish is distributed to those in need in collaboration with local authorities.
The Sphere Gardens initiative: It aims to educate children about growing food for sustainable food production and to become wise consumers. It targets a total of 28 schools in all seven emirates.
Abu Dhabi Food Centre Authority (ADFCA) launched the Food Atlas initiative in conjunction with the Department of Health - Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi Health Services Company, Abu Dhabi Quality and Conformity Council and Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi.
Food Atlas includes a guide for readers to identify how much food is too much to eat and the nutritional value of the portion consumed. The atlas includes 150 international and local foods and forms the basis for a larger plan that will look at chronic diseases, nutrition, water consumption and food security in the UAE.
In March 2016, the UAE Government agreed to extend its support to the operations of the Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) Sub-regional Office for the Gulf Cooperation Council States and Yemen. The partnership aims to:
contribute to the elimination of hunger and the reduction of poverty by improving agricultural and fisheries-based livelihoods in the Near East and North Africa
strengthen the sustainability of agriculture and fisheries production in the country as well as the sub-region
encourage innovation, technology-sharing and capacity building in the agriculture sector, in line with the leading role that the UAE plays in the Gulf sub-region and the broader Near East region.