Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) has launched its brand-new Food For Future Summit and Expo in association with Expo 2020 Dubai’s Food, Agriculture and Livelihoods Week.

Running from February 23-24 at Dubai Exhibition Centre at Expo 2020 Dubai, the Food For Future Summit & Expo will be co-located with the Global Agtech Innovation Expo to form a powerhouse of industry innovation and progression.

Hosted by the UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (UN FAO) as strategic partners, the Food For Future Summit & Expo will reinforce the UAE’s National Food Security Strategy and galvanise all sectors of the agriculture and food supply chains to create a sustainable food ecosystem for all.

Mariam Bint Mohammed Almheiri, UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment, said: “We are proud to host the Food For Future Summit & Expo that brings together like-minded stakeholders from around the world to explore innovative ways of advancing the global transition to sustainable food systems. The event aligns with the UAE’s holistic approach to food security, as reflected in the National Food Security Strategy 2051, and provides an ideal platform to showcase state-of-the-art agricultural solutions that address the critical water-food-energy nexus. We are pleased to join forces with FAO once again, and are confident that its support will add significant value to the event.”

Key focus sectors will include AI & Nutrition; IoT, cloud solutions, UAV, robotics and drones, automation, adaptive irrigation, grow lighting, data management, supply chain management, climate-smart agriculture, food loss and waste, controlled environment, ICT in agriculture, mechanisation, organic agriculture, precision agriculture, biotechnology, soil plant health, saltwater agriculture, renewable energy and water management.

Nurturing the global agritech start-up ecosystem

The multi-faceted event will engage the end-to-end food and agriculture ecosystem of producers, tech providers, suppliers and consumers, through an exhibition, partner workshops - including technical training organised by the ICBA (International Centre for Biosaline Agriculture) on plant biotechnology, GIS technologies and modeling and biosaline agri-tech - investor platforms, startup programmes, a food security leadership exchange symposium, and community engagement. The Summit will also host the UAE Food Technology Challenge and the region’s first dedicated Agri-Tech food contest for startups, the MENA Agri-Food Tech Challenge, organised in partnership with Thought for Food.

With anticipated participation from a raft of organisations and start-ups from over 50 countries, the first-of-its-kind event has already garnered C-suite support from industry leaders such as Dr. Juan Carlos Motamayor, Executive Director, Food Sector, NEOM, Ismael Roig, President, Europe, Middle East and Africa, ADM and Magdi Batato, Executive Vice President, Head of Operations, Nestle, as well as major entities such as Siemens and Al Dahra and leading authorities across New Zealand, The Netherlands, France, Greece, Singapore, Poland, Canada, Israel and Argentina.

The event comes as the UN’s FAO predicts worldwide food production needs to increase by 60 per cent by 2050 to cope with a population that will top nine billion. Some of the start-ups taking part include Tevel Tech, a food-tech company aiming to reduce labor costs and increase efficiency during harvest by using FAR (Flying Autonomous Robots); and MeaTech 3D, a company dedicated to the creation of cultured meat using 3D printing.

“Food insecurity remains a critical issue which has been increasing over the past six years; it now affects one quarter of the world’s population,” said Trixie LohMirmand, Executive Vice President, Events Management, DWTC. “In response, a paradigm shift is under way in global food production and the world is turning to the agritech sector for innovative solutions. Just recently, the UAE, Jordan and the Netherlands issued a joint call to work together on food, water and energy security by strengthening critical resources.

"A recent 2022 trends forecast by the International Food Information Council said consumers in urban areas will turn to vertical agriculture in their efforts to promote sustainability, nutrition and food security. The trend is growing at hyper-speed and the inaugural Food For Future Summit and Global Agtech Innovation Expo will highlight the urgency of the challenge and explore the harvest of business opportunities that will emerge as the global agritech sector grows in value.”

Global centrepoint for agriculture and food supply industry

The Food For Future Summit & Expo and Global Agtech Innovation Expo will bring the world’s agriculture and food supply industries to the heart of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, where the vertical farming sector alone has grown to a market value of $1.2bn. MENA countries are ramping up agritech initiatives, with Saudi Arabia investing $665 million in local agriculture and farming; United States and UAE are partnering on Agriculture Innovation Mission (AIM) for Climate, an initiative to increase investment in climate-smart agriculture and food systems innovation from 2021-2025; Abu Dhabi is launching a $270 million accelerator program to position the emirate as a global centre for agricultural desert innovation; Egypt is investing $2.1 billion in food security projects; and Kuwait’s Wafra Inc. is investing $100 million in the Pure Harvest agritech startup.

"There have never been more opportunities to improve the world through food and agriculture. The Food For Future Summit & Expo and Global Agtech Innovation Expo will highlight the latest in global food and agriculture technology across the value chain, from seed to sale. The exhibition will be accentuated with live discussions by international corporate innovators, farmers, and policymakers. Now is the time to share ideas and make plans for our collective food-secure future,” said Henry Gordon-Smith, Founder & CEO of Agritecture, and an internationally recognised sustainability strategist and agritech consultant renowned for his focus on urban agriculture, water issues, and emerging technologies.

The UAE has adopted a global food security leadership role, establishing the Emirates Food Security Council (EFSCC) to strengthen national authorities’ efforts to enhance food security and meet National Food Security Strategy goals, which include topping the Global Food Security Index by 2051.

Dubai is also advancing a new Food Tech Valley to serve as a hub for tech-based food and agricultural products, and an incubator for researchers, entrepreneurs, startups, and industry experts involved in developing solutions with the potential to shape the future of the food industry. The integrated modern city will feature over 300 varieties of crops produced using modern farming and agri techniques. Dubai has also established a food export gateway giving access to a footprint of 1.5 billion people in African markets.

Global Leadership Symposium and Summit to address wide-ranging food security issues

The Food For Future Summit & Expo will be an unparalleled platform for fast-paced and focused business discussions, industry dialogue and knowledge exchange across eight mainline features including a sourcing platform to frontier technology from some of the world’s most innovative food and agritech providers.

“We are looking forward to being part of the Food for Future Summit to restate our mission to help tackle food and water security challenges in the UAE and the region. By joining the efforts of the private sector with the support of the public sector, we believe the summit will be a key driver for successful and fruitful industry conversations,” said Haifa Alrasheed, Director of Growth, Madar Farms, a Dubai-based vertical farming company.

The Summit’s Leadership Exchange Symposium is intended to become an annual platform for world leaders, experts, and innovators to deliver collaborative, concerted programmes, and policy responses to major food security challenges. It will comprise 130 hours of high impact discussion across 50 sessions delivered by 150 speakers, 70% of whom are making their regional debut.

Leading the Symposium will be Mariam Bint Mohammed Almheiri, UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment, who will drive discussion around some of the industry’s most prominent issues. Speakers at the Symposium include; Martien Van Nieuwkoop, Global Director, Agriculture and Food, World Bank Group; Prasad Gopalan, Manager, MAS Global, Agribusiness and Forestry at the International Finance Corporation (IFC) - a sister organisation of the World Bank and member of the World Bank Group; Andre Laperriere, Executive Director, Global Open Data initiative for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN), an initiative to support global efforts to make access to agriculturally and nutritionally relevant data unrestricted; and Paul Newnham, Director, SDG2 Advocacy Hub, who coordinates global campaigning and advocacy to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

Also included are Henry Gordon Smith, CEO, Agritecture, and a recognised global thought leader in the accelerating vertical and urban agriculture industry; Meiny Prins, Founder, Sustainable Urban Delta, a foundation established to help megacities move toward healthy and sustainable urban growth; Ismael Roig, President, Europe, Middle East and Africa, ADM, a leading multinational food processing and commodities trading company; Magdi Batato, Executive Vice President, Head of Operations, Nestle, and Christine Gould, CEO, Thought for Food – organisers of the TFF Summit dubbed the “SXSW of Food and Agriculture.

For the first time in the region, the UN FAO has partnered with the UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment and the Food For Future Summit and Expo to host a platform dedicated to advancing agrifood transformation in the MENA region and accelerating action towards better production, nutrition, environment and lives. ‘FAO: Focus on Innovation in Agrifood Systems’ will facilitate engagement with key regional actors, and will feature two high-level sessions on the Committee on World Food Security Voluntary Guidelines on Food Systems and Nutrition, and Trade, Innovation and Technology as Enablers for Food Security.

Global Agtech & Innovation Expo

The exhibition will spotlight global front-runners in innovation and technology across agriculture 4.0, crop production, livestock, farming and health, as well as aquaculture - slated as the fastest-growing sector in the food animal industry, which is expected to hit US$275 billion by 2025. Confirmed participants include NEOM, ADM, Nestle and Siemens.

The Food For Future Summit & and Global Agtech Innovation Expo will be part of the Dubai Exhibition Centre’s Food, Agriculture and Livelihoods Week, which runs from February 20-26 next year to focus discussion on localised solutions for food, nutrition, and farming challenges, and explore how to feed a growing population while living in harmony with the planet. The initiative will be attended by ministerial delegations, corporate executives, NGO leaders, agritech innovators, investors and acclaimed scientists, inventors, and academics from around the world.

Knowledge-sharing and community engagement

The Summit’s dedicated knowledge-sharing and community networking forum will be a think-tank of NGOs, academia, government, technology, food production and hospitality leaders to shape food security agendas. Curated meetings of government policy and decision makers, investors, accelerators, food and agriculture companies, and tech founders will deliver access to frontier technology while the dedicated ‘Start-up Suite’ at the Food for Future Summit will host, support, and set the stage for the next generation of food security innovators who are looking for funding, new business or partnerships with leading food corporations or government entities. Startups can attend organised meetings, present on the demo stage, and participate in mentorship clinics.

“This gives the sector’s disruptors unrivalled access to leaders from the global agribusinesses sector who are looking for solutions, as well as corporate venture capitalists, family offices, sovereign funds, angel investors, incubators and accelerators looking to deploy large investment capital,” said LohMirmand. “In effect, the Summit itself is emerging as an industry incubator.”

The summit will also host Foodwise, a food security hackathon for university students and schools in partnership with Goumbook, featuring 50 UAE schools, 10 universities and 300 students, and will challenge them to solve problems relating to food wastage and production.

Community outreach

The Summit also intends to build community awareness of food security issues, challenges, and opportunities through a Skills Building Platform featuring food security technology educational and training seminars for youths and professionals, large-scale immersive campaigns to put food security on the national agenda, hackathons and design sprints to attract the world’s top data scientists, subject matter experts, engineers, and developers. There will also be public-centric education sessions showcasing zero waste and nutrition practices.

“Our region’s climate and growing population, combined with the global pandemic, have escalated the need for food security, especially in the UAE, which imports 90 per cent of what it eats. The Food for Future Summit is crucial to the country’s ambition of improving food security,” said Athar Siddiqui, Executive Vice President, Factory Automation & Motion Controls, Siemens Middle East. “Siemens, as the Summit Digitalisation Partner and the Premier Partner for Infrastructure at Expo 2020 Dubai, is ideally placed to help shape this future.”

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