Abu Dhabi: The UAE is firmly committed to research and studies that will contribute towards agricultural innovation, said Shaikh Nahyan Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development, at the official launch of the Khalifa International Award for Date Palm and Agricultural Innovation in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday.
The 2016 edition of the award has seen a change in the initiative from previous years, with a higher emphasis on innovation as well as a significant increase in the prize money, which has gone up from Dh300,000 to Dh1 million.
Originally launched in 2007 as the Khalifa International Date Palm Award by President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the initiative is aimed at supporting scientific research and development in the agricultural and date palm sector, and to showcase the UAE’s efforts towards that goal. Since then, hundreds of participants from around the world have taken part in the initiative, which has also seen the award become the most prominent award in the agriculture and date palm industry.
“Undoubtedly, this unique scientific award, honoured by holding the name of our father, His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, the leader of its march and builder of its renaissance, would add a new brick, create a quality leap and inaugurate a new phase at the level of agricultural innovation and development of the date palm sector at the Arab and international levels,” said Shaikh Nahyan.
“Khalifa International Award for Date Palm and Agricultural Innovation has come to complement the march of Khalifa International Date Palm Award which was launched in 2007 and, over eight years, achieved great development and a lot accomplishments,” he added.
Al Nahyan spoke on the importance of agriculture and its contribution to successful civilisations.
“Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan considered agriculture the title of civilisation and a main reason of progress and prosperity and a pillar of the economy of the modern state,” he said. “With determination, wisdom and will, he managed to overpower difficulties and overcome obstacles to change the desert into a green paradise,” he added.
The minister also said research into new innovative methods for agriculture production was crucial to achieve food security.
“With wars and droughts many regions in the world are witnessing and leading to severe deficiency in food and imbalance of the world food security, it is [therefore] very necessary to launch initiatives to motivate innovation, creativity, finding of proper and effective solutions and providing research and studies that would contribute to minimising the problems such circumstances have caused,” he said.
“We hope that Khalifa International Award for Date Palm and Agricultural Innovation would contribute to finding solutions and outlets for many of the problems the agricultural sector is suffering, so as to ensure achievement of the highest productivity standard of all agricultural crops and to contribute to providing food to the greatest number of the world population,” he added.
Jose Graziano, director of the United Nations Agriculture and Food Organisation (FAO), who was also present at the launch, praised the UAE for its diligent efforts in providing food security for its citizens and residents, as well as its worldwide contributions.
“The United Arab Emirates has already achieved the first of the Millennium Developmental Goals, namely, concerning reduction of hunger, and succeeded in maintaining malnutrition at levels lower than 5 per cent since 1990. The United Arab Emirates has also sustained its position as the largest donor of foreign aid in the world,” he said.
The Khalifa International Award for Date Palm and Agricultural Innovation
The five categories:
-Distinguished Innovative Studies and Modern Technology, the winner will receive Dh1 million
-Pioneering Development and Productive Projects, the winner will receive Dh1 million
-Distinguished Producers in the Date Palm Sector, the winner will receive Dh750,000
-Pioneering and Sophisticated Innovations Serving the Agricultural Sector, the winner will receive Dh750,000
-Influential Figure in the field of date palm and agricultural innovation, the winner will receive Dh750,000
-Applications open from May 1 to October 31,
-Winners will be announced in the second week of February 2017
-The honouring ceremony will be held in the second week of March 2017