A massive carpet of green that took over a desert in Sharjah’s Mleiha is about to get bigger. The wheat farm had bloomed over 400 hectares of land and produced over 200 tonnes of high-quality yield. And now, the Sharjah Ruler has issued directives to speed up its expansion to 1,900 hectares.
According to the team working on the project, preparations for expanding the cultivation area by five times are already underway. Seeds are expected to be sown in November this year.
The 400-hectare farm was phase 1 of the project that yielded high-quality wheat in March 2023.
The original plan was to double the farm size by 2024 as part of phase 2 of the project, and make it a 1,900-hectare green oasis by 2025 (phase 3).
However, His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, directed the authorities concerned to merge the second and third phases.
Called ‘Saba Sanabel’, which means seven spikes, the wheat produced at the farm has the highest protein content in the UAE market at 18 per cent. The harvest defied predictions that wheat could not be cultivated in the desert.
To ensure the smooth processing and distribution of the chemical-free wheat, authorities in Sharjah have signed a contract with Al Ain Mills for milling the wheat.
The Sharjah Cooperative Society has also been granted the contract to sell and market the wheat, becoming the official distributor of the locally-grown produce.
The response from customers has been overwhelming, according to the team handling the project.
The first batch of the wheat became available during the last 10 days of the holy month of Ramadan. Currently, the produce is available in two sizes — 2kg and 5kg — both at stores and online.
Meeting the demand for wheat
Sheikh Sultan had sown the seeds at the farm in November 2022.
As he attended the harvest ceremony four months later, he pointed out that the wheat produced at the farm was among the world’s finest.
The aim is to produce 15,200 tonnes of wheat, which is the amount consumed in Sharjah in one year. This will effectively replace imported wheat.
Sheikh Sultan had also announced that laboratory and field experiments are currently being conducted to produce the world’s finest wheat, which will be called ‘Sharjah-1’.
He vowed to have more farms that will produce vegetables free of toxins and pesticides. He blamed these chemicals for the spread of serious diseases such as cancer.
The wheat farm project is a major milestone in the UAE's efforts to enhance food security. The success of this project is expected to have a positive impact on the country's economy, reducing its dependence on imports.
Thirteen-metre irrigation lines water the crops at the farm in a process that is powered by artificial intelligence. A state-of-the-art irrigation station provides water to the wheat farm through six large suction pumps with a capacity of up to 60,000 cubic metres of water throughout the day. Water is transported from the Hamda station through a 13-kilometre conveyor line to the farm.
Farms are blooming across the country as the UAE realises its plans for food production with recycled water and minimal waste.
The UAE has set ambitious targets for food security. In March, Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri, UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment (MoCCE), said the country is aiming to secure 50 per cent of some basic food requirements from local farms and producers by end of this year, with the aim of increasing the target to 100 per cent by 2030.
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