The UAE aims to produce a whopping 60 per cent more food to feed a global population of nine billion people within the next 33 years, the Minister of Climate Change and Environment announced on Monday.
During the fifth edition of the Global Forum for Innovation in Agriculture, held under the patronage of Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs; Dr Thani Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, chairman of the Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority, said the globalised nature of the food supply chain means that no country, region or continent is immune to food insecurity.
"Given the growing scarcity of fresh water, the scale of degradation of arable land and the increasing volatility of weather as a result of the changing climate, the task at hand is immense," he said.
The minister stressed that the UAE is working hard towards achieving the production of at least 60 per cent more food for export in just three decades.
"We believe this event will generate meaningful debate, actions, partnerships and opportunities to help us - in just 33 years from now - produce at least 60 per cent more food than we do today to feed a global population of nine billion.
"This is a challenge that transcends national borders and is one felt acutely here in the Middle East, where burgeoning populations in arid regions are placing a strain on the capacity of nations to feed their citizens."
Dr Al Zeyoudi said that innovation is thus crucial for agriculture, sustainability and food production. "We in the UAE, are among the countries in the region that stand in the vanguard of those supporting agricultural innovations and scientific research."
He pointed out that the UAE has had a unique experience in agricultural innovations. "This is spite of the hard climatic conditions and water scarcity, the country has succeeded thanks to political will and the adoption of modern farming techniques, in developing a sustainable farming sector that contributes to meeting some of the food requirements of the country."
UAE looks for collaborations
Dr Al Zeyoudi added that the two-day forum, which is the world's largest showcase of agricultural technology, will help raise the level of collaboration between the UAE and other nations. "We recognise the need for global expertise, and welcome the opportunity for international involvement in the regional agricultural sector."
He said Abu Dhabi is ideally located on the shores of the Arabian Gulf, at the heart of the world's largest arid region. "There is the potential for innovative water-saving technologies, hydroponics and high-tech agriculture, amongst many technologies, to be deployed here to great success."
He pointed out that the public, private sectors and the not-for-profit groups must work together to solve pressing challenges.
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