File picture: Farmers load harvested paddy onto a bullock cart on the outskirts of Bhubaneswar, India. Image Credit: AP

From a dedicated food corridor to integrated food supply chain solutions to agriculture trading platforms to food processing units and the taste of Kashmir’s famed saffron, the UAE and India are moving closer than ever in securing robust collaborations in the food and agritech sectors.

Evidence of that came from last week’s UAE-India Food Security Summit, a two-day event that was organised in Dubai by the Consulate General of India.

Building on the necessity of securing food and perishable produce supply chains in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic, the prospects for both the UAE and India are huge. Not only has the proposed India-UAE Food Corridor attracted investments worth $5 billion (Dh18.35 billion) from the UAE but also, as highlighted by Dr Ahmed Al Banna, Ambassador of UAE to India, projects as part of that corridor in the Indian states of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat will lead to tripling the export of agricultural and food products from India to the UAE, to about $7 billion in three years.

And it’s not just exports and food prices that will benefit from the close synergy between India and the UAE. The corridor is expected to benefit more than 2 million farmers in India and create an additional 200,000 jobs across the country, thanks in large parts to the investments under consideration from various UAE entities. While eight food processing units have been proposed to be set up in Madhya Pradesh backed by UAE funding, companies ranging from DP World to the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC) have already taken the lead in logistics and tech platforms such as Agriota, which will directly link farmers in India with food companies in the UAE.

The ambitious corridor is yet another instance of the dynamism that’s at the core of the UAE’s pursuit of bilateral collaborations. Given the changing trade dynamics and disruptions to global supply chains as a result of Covid-19, the UAE-India food corridor would significantly boost bilateral non-oil trade well beyond the Dh152 billion in 2019.

Such initiatives are a win-win for both countries: as a preferred trade hub for Indian businesses, the UAE offers world-class logistics and transport infrastructure, as well as strategic location that enables Indian food exporters to expand their reach across Middle East and African markets. For India, it offers an opportunity to convert its colossal food wastage — valued at $12.5 billion — backed by a strong logistics infrastructure for farms to port, into a secure food supply corridor. Operating in tandem, UAE and India are thus set to unlock the pathway to a more prosperous and secure future for their food and farm sectors.