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Bin Touq commended UAE Food Platform’s (launched during the Forum) ability to enable public-private collaboration in food security. Image Credit: Yaroslav Shuraev/Pexels

Dubai: The UAE is committed to transforming its food and agriculture sector to grow its contribution to GDP by $10 billion and creating 20,000 jobs in the next five years, Abdullah bin Touq Al Marri, Minister of Economy said on Friday. He also unveiled the seven key pillars of the strategic direction in achieving it.

The key strategies include localising innovation, fostering a UAE-first culture and food supply chain, and providing farmers with the necessary support and resources to make them a global leader in agri-food innovation and sustainability.

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Closing the fifth Future Food Forum on Thursday, Bin Touq praised the country’s F&B sector initiatives in skill development and digital-infrastructure capabilities achieved through various programmes to reshape how food is produced, distributed, and consumed in the region and globally.

He commended the UAE Food Platform’s (launched during the Forum) ability to enable public-private collaboration in food security and optimising the F&B ecosystem with digital infrastructures to drive the sector growth and attract investments and trade opportunities. 

Important food hubs
The UAE, today, is considered one of the most important hubs of global food logistics. Food products trade amounted to Dh130 billion in 2022 alone compared to Dh105 billion in 2021, registering a growth of 24 per cent in one year; food trading was 5.7 per cent of the UAE non-oil trade.

“With a growing population, food security assuming the highest priority, the UAE is doing well on this front and was on the top of the global food security index 2022 compared to other MENA counterparts, but the challenges for food in these uncertain times are real and present,” said Bin Touq. “Thankfully, our food industry’s resilience and adaptability make it adept in addressing this challenge while constantly emphasising sustainable practices, which will nurture our earth for centuries.”

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“We are working on a strategy to transform our Food and Agriculture cluster into a global power; the essential pillars around this work, which I’m about to say represents our commitment to innovation sustainability and self-sufficiency and food production,” said Bin Touq.

He noted that the first pillar is localising the next generation of agri-disruptors and growing them into global champions by nurturing local talents and innovation by identifying and supporting the next-generation solutions.

Second is making the UAE a global regulatory powerhouse ensures that our products are of higher standards and have international recognition. The third involves promoting a UAE-first culture to foster the entire food value chain by prioritising domestic production and reducing reliance on imports. Meanwhile, the fourth pillar remains critical as it aims to provide sufficient funding to industry players. 

“Access to funding is why people grow, industries evolve, and our strategy will look into securing funding and support,” said Bin Touq. “This brings us to our fifth pillar of fostering innovation with world-class R&D innovation, which is the cornerstone of progress. We will provide world-class research and development packages to inspire change.”

Furthermore, the sixth pillar will focus on enabling players to diversify and access new markets by creating pathways for all agriculture players. Finally, the strategy aims to build the next generation of farmers, who are the future of agriculture and agri-tech.

Bin Touq expressed commitment to providing farmers with the knowledge, technology and resources they need to succeed through training programmes, modernisation efforts, and support systems to ensure that the agriculture workforce is prepared to address the challenges and opportunities ahead.