For the UAE and Middle East, food security is about taking on the region's extreme climate. Agritech advances can help with that. Image Credit: Shutterstock

The UAE is playing a key role in environmental stewardship, taking the reins on food security initiatives that prioritize water conservation. The nation has stepped up to the challenge of COP28’s call for increased investment in agritech and water conservation.

By committing to sustainable food production practices and environmental protection, the country stands as a model for food security among the arid to dry sub-humid countries of the MENA region.

Dire need for water solutions

Water scarcity is more than just an environmental issue. It is a major barrier to economic growth and urbanization, presenting significant challenges that must not go unnoticed.

During COP27, Egypt’s minister of environment raised the alarm on water scarcity, presenting a challenge that could sabotage any development ambition. Without swift intervention, this worrisome issue is only poised to become more complicated, stressing its urgency and making it an unavoidable priority for all MENA nations.

The scorching sun and lack of precipitation have taken a devastating toll on farmers in the region, leaving their crops withered beyond salvation. Prices for essential foodstuffs are soaring as these extreme draughts bring hardship and uncertainty to those depending on farming for their livelihoods.

To keep agricultural production going in water-limited areas, we must take proactive steps to ensure the health and sustainability of farms. This includes developing policies that foster good farming practices, incentivizing drought-resistant crops, providing financial aid for irrigation installations and upgrades, improving systems related to storing and distributing water, and increasing access to educational materials on ways farmers can use this vital resource more efficiently.

Most importantly, we must prioritize agritech innovation and development.

Power sustainability in the UAE

Agritech has the power to generate sustainability and environmental stewardship, especially in arid climates such as that of the UAE. It is a viable tool that can maximize crop yields while preserving natural resources. By introducing forward-thinking solutions for the agricultural sector, the UAE can unlock tremendous potential and ultimately achieve food independence.

Developing sustainable farming practices

For true food security across the UAE, a complete supply chain should be established, utilizing cutting-edge nanotech and hydroponics. By investing in research-driven agricultural advancements such as state-of-the-art greenhouses that are resilient to hostile desert climates, we can ensure high quality produce is available on demand with minimal environmental harm.

Private sector initiatives

We are preparing for the launch of the region’s largest ‘smart nano-growpro farm’, which will offer 4.5 million square feet for growing produce. The system ensures year-round production of quality foods through an environmentally friendly approach.

The nano-growpro system will provide an innovative approach for agricultural producers, maximizing their yield with less input. It requires up to 60 per cent fewer resources such as water and fertilizer compared to existing methods, while yielding a 25 per cent higher crop output than other traditional practices.

Our goal is to ensure food security through the sustainable and affordable production of 6 million kilograms of produce from the Arabian desert each year.

Sustainable food production, waste management

The UAE is taking steps to reduce food waste by introducing more efficient transportation networks and new regulations on packaging materials. These efforts will not only help the UAE limit its greenhouse emissions, but also meet its targets for a carbon-neutral future, paving the way for an economically and environmentally sustainable future for all.

Agritech will offer better solutions such as precision agriculture, advanced irrigation systems, and data analytics that can help reduce water consumption, optimize crop yields, and maximize resource efficiency. It will also provide opportunities for farmers to share best practices so that they can easily access innovative technologies and adopt new methods of sustainable farming.

By leveraging these advances, the UAE can become a leader in sustainable agricultural production.