An Emirati farmer known for his delicious pineapples says growing plants without chemicals or fertilisers is easy in the UAE. Abdullatif Al Banna grows 4,000 juicy, sweet pineapples yearly and encourages people to start farming in the country.

"Three months during the year, we have a suitable environment for planting crops," he said, addressing a room full of business leaders, students and community members at the Climate Future Week (CFW). "We have a suitable environment. All we need is for people to work hard on their farms or gardens. I hope every individual plants something, even if they have a small patch in their garden. It will help the environment."

Addressing the crowds, he also advised them not to use fertilisers. "Using chemicals will kill the insects that are really important for the environment cycle," he said. "We need to balance the environment cycle. Focus on growing high-quality products without any fertilisers. That is the best way to benefit the environment."

Al Banna is a farmer who has been growing thousands of pineapples on his farm in Al Awir for more than eight years. "I have four greenhouses measuring 36 by 8 meters, and in each of them, I have 1,000 pineapples," he said, speaking to Khaleej Times. "In addition, I have tomatoes, dates and many other plants. But the pineapples are the most unique ones."

Pineapple experiments

According to Al Banna, he started growing pineapples simply out of curiosity. "A friend of mine named Adil Lootah said that he had grown pineapples and that they were suitable to the UAE environment. I took 300 saplings from him and tested them on my farm."

He divided the saplings into four batches and planted them in four environments - one in the open air, another one under the shade of trees, a third one outside the greenhouse and the last one inside the greenhouse. Only the batch grown inside the greenhouse survived, and the moment he tasted the pineapples that survived, he fell in love.

"It was the best pineapple I had tasted in my life," he said. "It was sweet and firm. And each of them weighed close to 5kgs." Starting with only the batch that survived in the greenhouse, he was even more surprised that each pineapple gave him 4-5 saplings. This multiplied until it reached 4,000 pineapples. "I stopped once I had the 4,000. I could not handle more than that," he chuckled.

However, he never sells these pineapples. "I give it to my friends, family and relatives," he said. "And when they say how much they love it and tell me that it is the sweetest pineapple they have ever tasted, it makes me very happy. That is why I have continued growing pineapples. I don't like to sell my produce. I like to give it away and see the happiness of people's faces."

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