The UAE aims to increase the contribution of agriculture sectors in the economy by $10 billion (Dh36.7 billion) and create 20,000 jobs in the next five years, said Abdulla bin Touq al Marri, UAE’s Minister of Economy.

While speaking during the fifth Future Food Forum in Dubai, the minister revealed seven key pillars to achieve the objective including localising innovation, fostering a UAE-first culture and food supply chain, making the UAE a global regulatory powerhouse ensuring that products are of higher standards and have international recognition, and providing farmers with the necessary support and resources to make them a global leader in agri-food innovation and sustainability.

“Access to funding is why people grow, industries evolve, and our strategy will look into securing funding and support. This brings us to our fifth pillar of fostering innovation with world-class R&D innovation. We will provide world-class research and development packages to inspire change,” he said.

Under the sixth objective, the UAE will focus on enabling firms to diversify and access new markets. Finally, the seventh pillar of the strategy is aimed at building the next generation of farmers, who are the future of agriculture and agri-tech.

The UAE has been aggressively pursuing its food security and sustainability initiatives to enhance self-sufficiency.

In 2020, the UAE Cabinet approved the National System for Sustainable Agriculture to improve the efficiency of farms, enhance self-sufficiency in food and create new opportunities. Some of the key objectives under the System include increasing self-sufficiency from the targeted agricultural crops to 5 per cent annually; increasing average farm income to 10 per cent annually; raising the workforce in the sector by 5 per cent annually; and achieving a 15 per cent annual reduction in water used for irrigation of a production unit.

Al Marri said that with a growing population, food security is assuming the highest priority and the UAE is doing well on this front.

“(The UAE) was on the top of the global food security index 2022 when compared to other Mena counterparts, but the challenges for food in these uncertain times are real and present. Thankfully, our food industry’s resilience and adaptability make it adept in addressing this challenge while constantly emphasising sustainable practices, which will nurture our earth for centuries,” he added.

Al Marri praised the country’s food and beverages sector’s initiatives in skill development and digital-infrastructure capabilities achieved through various programmes to reshape how food is produced, distributed, and consumed in the region and globally. He commended the UAE Food Platform’s launched during the Forum to enable public-private collaboration in food security and optimising the F&B ecosystem with digital infrastructures to drive the sector growth and attract investments and trade opportunities.

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