Recently, Dubai has shown great interest in using technology to tackle issues around food security.
Not only can technology help to increase food and agricultural production, but it can also help to tackle food waste and food loss.
At the moment, although the UAE has one of the toughest climates for growing produce, their food trade brings in over Dh100 billion, and this is only set to increase.
In 2020, the Abu Dhabi Investment Office gave $100 million (Dh367 million) for agricultural technology companies AeroFarms, Madar Farms, RNZ and RDI to partner up and build Agritech research and development facilities, and production centres in Abu Dhabi.
There are also opportunities such as the FoodTech Challenge - a global competition with the aim of funding new business ideas that look for innovative solutions to help with food security.
This competition only helps to support the UAE’s commitment to providing its people with sufficient, safe and nutritious food.
It’s also worth remembering that, in November 2018, Dubai also launched its National Strategy for Food Security.
This plan has 38 short and long term initiatives and 5 goals that focus on helping global food trade, diversifying food import sources and identifying alternative supply schemes.
This is exactly why the launch of Food Tech Valley is very welcome, not only for entrepreneurs and other stakeholders in the sector, but for the economy too. According the report, the major food technology hub will:
further develop vertical farming, water systems, and other agricultural technologies.
triple the UAE’s food production.
become the global centre for start-ups and industry experts.
host research and development facilities.
help the UAE get closer to self-sufficiency.
The UAE’s Minister of State for Food and Water Security, Mariam Al Mheiri - who is at the forefront of exploring urban planning of food-independent cities, and spearheading the food security drive - described Food Tech Valley as “an economic zone, which is particularly significant considering that the size of the Agtech market is projected to grow from $13.5 billion to $22 billion over the next four years.”
This means that, in the coming years, the UAE will become far more sustainable from the production to consumption of nutritious food.
Food security is improved when technology can help to improve the whole process, from planting to production, and storage to retail.
And, because the hub provides agricultural and engineering technology, a food innovation centre, and logistics and Research and Development (R&D) facilities, it offers a holistic approach to solving the issues.
So, the technology will help prevent food loss, and it’ll allow businesses to come up with innovative solutions to help fight food waste too.
The huge publicity around the hub may also raise awareness with consumers and encourage them to fight food waste.
At the moment, the UAE ranks 42 out of 113 in the Global Food Security Index, which grades countries based on the affordability, availability, quality, safety and resilience of their food systems.
The country’s National Strategy for Food Security aims to make the UAE the world’s best in the Global Food Security Index by 2051, though.
Thanks to the launch of Food Tech Valley, they’re well on course to do so.