ABU - The Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Award for Agricultural Excellence has been launched by the Abu Dhabi Agriculture and Food Safety Authority (ADAFSA) to recognise outstanding farmers and livestock breeders in Abu Dhabi.

The annual award promotes agricultural innovation and encourages farm owners to adopt best practices and modern farming systems, thus achieving sustainable agriculture development.

The award’s total value is AED6.7 million, and it will be presented across three main categories, namely Outstanding Farmer and Breeder, Agricultural Innovation, and Commercial Farms.

Some 56 shortlisted nominees, including beekeepers and owners of productive, aquatic and commercial farms, will compete for recognition.

H.H. Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of the Presidential Court, and Chairman of ADAFSA, said the award supports the implementation of the vision of President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, and promotes the UAE's position in the agricultural sector.

He added that the award encourages farmers, breeders and commercial farm owners to adopt global practices, to improve and instil innovation in the agricultural sector. It will contribute to increasing agricultural production and enhancing food security.

He said, “The agricultural sector is central to economic growth, supporting socio-environmental development, increasing farmer and breeder profits. This sector was and still is the catalyst for development, stability and prosperity.”

Sheikh Mansour noted that the award is launched in conjunction with the Sheikh Zayed Festival in Al Wathba, to recognise and fulfil the vision of the late Sheikh Zayed, and follow in his footsteps towards achieving agricultural sustainability.

He added, “It is our responsibility to support farmers and livestock breeders, due to their active role in promoting the food and biosecurity system.”

He was confident the award would motivate farmers and breeders, increase their contribution to the sustainable development journey, and establish Abu Dhabi as a leading scientific hub for agricultural innovation.

Saeed Al Bahri Alameri, Director-General of ADAFSA, said, “This award is given annually to recognise the outstanding efforts to achieve agricultural sustainability. The award aims to motivate farmers and breeders to adopt the best agriculture practices, use modern farming systems, promote healthy competition, diversify local production, and address challenges facing the agricultural sector.”

According to Alameri, the award will be given to farmers and breeders who have made tangible efforts to advance their farms, small-scale producers, and commercial farms that play a pivotal role in supporting the food security system, based on a future vision entitled "Innovative Farmer with a Sustainable Vision”.

Alameri added, "The award reflects the attention paid by Sheikh Mansour to the agricultural sector. It affirms his keenness on recognising the outstanding professionals and promoting a culture of positive competition to enable sustainable agricultural development and achieve food security.”

He noted that ADAFSA targets making the award a source of inspiration to motivate all stakeholders to deliver excellence by adopting modern farming systems, applying best practices, and increasing productivity.

To promote the award objectives, various accompanying events will be organised in conjunction with the activities of the Sheikh Zayed Festival, including competitions for date producers and productive families, a weekly livestock auction, and competitions to motivate livestock breeders to acquire the best breeds. This supports the directions of the Abu Dhabi Government and ADAFSA to develop food security systems and achieve agricultural sustainability.

The award features three main categories. The Outstanding Farmer and Breeder Category covers eight sub-categories. Four awards will be given to crop production-related sub-categories, including the Best Farm in Open Field Cultivation, the Best Farm in Greenhouse Cultivation, the Best Farm in Fruit Production, and the Best Organic Farm. The other four awards will be given to animal production-related sub-categories, including Productive Farms, Small-Scale Producers (broiler breeding), Beekeepers, and Aquatic Farms.

The Agricultural Innovation Category features two awards, the first for crop production and the other for animal production. Meanwhile, the Commercial Farms Category features two awards, one for commercial animal production and the other for commercial crop production.

Applications for the award are invited and can be made through the award official website. The application process will close on 31st December, 2022, when the technical and field evaluation process will begin based on the criteria set by the award technical committee. This is followed by the process of approving the evaluation results and announcing shortlisted nominees for the final stage. The award winners will be recognised in a prestigious closing ceremony attended by several high-profile persons and all participants.