Abu Dhabi: The Abu Dhabi Agriculture and Food Safety Authority (ADAFSA) has signed a cooperation agreement with the Khalifa University of Science and Technology (KUST) to implement the Modern Agricultural Technologies Programme. The programme aims to apply modern technology in agriculture to improve production efficiency and environmental sustainability. This will help to increase agricultural productivity, improve crop quality and reduce the use of natural resources and water.

The agreement was signed on the side-lines of the COP28 Climate Change Conference by HE Saeed Al Bahri Al Ameri, Director General of the Abu Dhabi Agriculture and Food Safety Authority, and Professor Sir John O'Reilly, President of Khalifa University of Science and Technology.

The programme consists of three main initiatives Advanced Agriculture 4.0 Programme: This programme is based on the use of information and communication technology, artificial intelligence and other modern technologies on farms to find solutions to current challenges in the agricultural sector and to rehabilitate traditional farms.

Post-harvest practices programme: This programme aims to study the current situation to determine the percentage of loss of agricultural products associated with post-harvest operations, research the best techniques and practices used globally for post-harvest operations, study the most appropriate ones for application in Abu Dhabi farms, and develop post-harvest operation guidelines for all crops that can be grown in the UAE's conditions, and educate farmers about them.

The transition to climate-smart practices programme: This programme aims to establish standards for climate-smart agriculture in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. It will address the fundamentals of climate change, which are to sustainably increase agricultural productivity and economic income, adapt to climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This will be done by proposing and adopting a range of technologies that will help achieve the three objectives of climate-smart agriculture.

The programme is organised by the Emirates Centre for Innovation in Telecommunications and Information Technology (EBTIC), which was established by Khalifa University, e& Global Technology and Investment Group (Etisalat), BT Group, with the support of ICT Fund of Telecommunications and Digital Government Regulatory Authority (TDRA).

His Excellency Saeed Al Bahri Salem Al Amri, Director General of ADAFSA, said, "We are pleased to collaborate with Khalifa University of Science and Technology and appreciate their support for programmes aimed at reducing food loss and waste and preserving natural resources in the country. Together, we will work to achieve the desired goals of the agreement, building on ADAFSA's mission to develop a sustainable sector in agriculture and food safety, contributing to enhancing biosecurity and achieving food security".

"This agreement is in line with ADAFSA's recently launched Strategy. It aims to stimulate the agricultural sector and food production, consolidate the sector's position as a key driver in the economic diversification system, increase its contribution to the emirate's GDP, encourage farmers to adopt best practices in line with the principles of sustainable agriculture, and reduce food loss and waste at the emirate's level, in line with our vision of global leadership in food security." He added.

For his part, Professor Sir John O'Reilly, President of Khalifa University of Science and Technology said, "I am delighted with this constructive cooperation with ADAFSA, which comes within the framework of the fruitful efforts that the University is making to cooperate with various relevant institutions. I would like to highlight the importance of this cooperation, which is the third that brings together KU and ADAFSA to enhance food security, improve the quality of local products, and adopt the best agricultural practices that are compatible with climate change and preserve natural resources."

The agreement comes within ADAFSA's efforts to preserve natural resources, encourage farmers to adopt the best agricultural innovations and practices, reduce food loss and waste, and raise awareness among farmers about the best global agricultural practices to increase the productivity and efficiency of local crops, ensuring that the community has access to safe and healthy food.

Dr Nawaf Al Moosa, Director of EBTIC and Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Khalifa University, said: "EBTIC is pleased to contribute with all its available resources to support ADAFSA's Modern Agricultural Technologies Programme and to ensure the use of modern technologies in addition to the conversion of agricultural production to 'climate-smart' practices. At the same time, EBTIC will facilitate the adoption of more technology and enhance capacity building in the agricultural sector.”

It is worth noting that earlier this year, ADAFSA signed two cooperation agreements with Khalifa University, represented by EBTIC. The first aims to develop solutions to diversify food import sources using smart systems and Internet of Things technology, while the second project aims to implement the first phase of the project that aims to expand the coverage of inspection and control programmes to develop a smart control system using smart system technologies in targeted establishments in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi in accordance with ADAFSA control and inspection standards and requirements.