Food Consumption in the UAE is growing at an annual rate of more than 4% per year. The population is estimated to increase from 9 million to 11 million by 2030. These factors combined with the desert country having an extreme climate condition and water scarcity almost no rainfall plus a very limited water supply arable land present the government with big challenges.
At least 20 per cent of all fruit and vegetables consumed in the UAE are now grown locally, and supermarkets have reported a surge in sales of locally-grown produce over the past four years. This information was revealed at the launch of a week-long event at Lulu supermarkets that seeks to boost the profile of locally-grown produce.
More than a hundred varieties — including cucumbers, tomatoes, capsicum and zucchini grown at farms across the UAE with support from the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment — are on sale at shops and markets across the country and include organic products.
The government policy is looking to increase the amount grown by 5 to 10 per cent a year. The initiative will boost food security, ensure farmers get a bigger slice of the profits by removing middlemen and will lead to sustainable use of vital water supplies.
Some farmers are embracing hydroponics, a more efficient system of agriculture that does not need soil, to cut their water use by up to 70 per cent, officials said. There are least 200 hydroponic farms in the UAE now and the ministry is helping those who want to try these techniques.
Major supermarket chains are also reporting a surge in sales. Lulu said that it sold close to Dh4m (€952,000) worth of organic, locally-grown produce during 2018 — a five per cent increase on 2017. This represents about 10 per cent of all organic fruit and vegetables sold at its chains here — up from about three per cent a few years ago.
The Farm House in the Emirates of Ras Al Khaimah with an area of 40.000 Square meters facility produces around 3,500 Kg of tomatoes a day!
The Farmhouse uses innovative farming technologies to deliver fresh, locally-grown pesticide free vegetables to the UAE
Getting fresh produce year-round is a challenge here in the UAE with the hot desert climate. Regionally grown produce often uses pesticides and cannot always be delivered during the summer months, while naturally grown vegetables imported from around the world come with a high price tag and spend up to 14 days in transit, losing their freshness.
Al Dahra-Baywa greenhouses facility in Al-Ain is a perfect of adaptation of Dutch advanced technologies adapted to the UAE’s environment by a group of Dutch companies: Van der Hoeven, Patron Agri Systems, VEK Adviesgroepe, Van Dijk Heating, Royal Brinkman, Natupol, Grodan Delta, Omniplast.
It will produces 3,000,000 kg of clean tomatoes annually whereby water is recycled to 100%.
Pure Harvest Farm is in the middle of the desert in the United Arab Emirates, tomatoes are grown with Dutch innovation. Pure Harvest aims to be part of the solution to the region’s growing food security, water conservation, and sustainability challenges.
Total 7 Dutch companies are involved: Certhon Greenhouse Solutions, Priva, Koppert Biological Systems, Hatenboer Water, Royal Brinkman, Rijk Zwaan.
Pure Harvest Smart Farms is the embodiment of the water-food-energy Nexus. As a local start-up, it expresses the vision of the Netherlands of sustainability through innovation.
In such an arid harsh climate, while constantly battling with a limited water supply, it is essential that innovations such as controlled climate growing facilities are utilized in order to maximize food sources. Pure Harvest plans to develop a portfolio of CEA (controlled environment agriculture) technologies including vertical farms and contained based growing locations to help battle water and food scarcity and provide a wide range of fresh produce.
The Dutch high-tech of Certhon used at Pure Harvest enabled approach to arid climate agriculture and its strong project team offers a realistic and much-needed solution for improving food security across the Gulf.
The GCC’s first commercial vertical indoor farm, Badia Farms, uses the latest hydroponic technology and vertical farming techniques, the farm produces nutritious and pesticide-free leafy greens without the need for sunlight, soil or chemicals. The farm produces an extensive range of micro-greens and baby leaf herb varieties. Badia Farms uses high-tech indoor farming techniques that allow crops to grow throughout the year. The sustainable eco-system created at Badia Farms uses 90% less water than in open field farming.
A ‘Food Valley’, or a technology hub, dedicated to the development of food and farming automation, is set to be built in the UAE. The project aims to address the country’s rapid population growth and increasing food consumption rate of 4 percent per year. These factors, combined with the UAE’s inhospitable desert environment, present the government with an agricultural challenge.
The UAE aims to develop new technologies that would enable it to grow more food despite its desert landscape. The idea comes from the Food Valley in The Netherlands, where you have technologies, or start-ups, sprouting and developing into commercial giants.
Today, fresh and non-perishable produce from foreign shores accounts for up to 90 percent of the country’s food. To reduce this reliance on imports, the UAE’s focus is shifting towards developing local agriculture, and with new technologies.
The question remains, however, whether the UAE’s hi-tech local produce will be able to compete in price terms with cheaper overseas imports in the supermarkets?
The UAE currently imports up to 90% of the food consumed by its population. Will local produce be able to compete with cheaper overseas imports?
The Minister of Food Security hopes that residents in the emirates will be willing to pay a slight premium for locally grown fruit and vegetables, arguing that they have travelled a shorter distance and are more nutritious.
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