Dubai: More than 10,000 seeds of Ghaf tree that will help combat climate change have been planted in the UAE desert this year using drone technology — thanks to CAFU, the Dubai-born start-up car service technology company.
CAFU made the announcement during a press conference held at Sanad Academy, a drone training institution, on Tuesday. CAFU said the initiative is part of its ‘The Ghaf Tree Project, aimed at planting one million ghaf trees.
Ghaf (scientific name: Prosopis cineraria) — known as the UAE’s national tree — is a drought-tolerant tree, which can remain green in harsh desert environment. The Environment and Protected Areas Authority (EPAA) have supported CAFU since November 2019 by providing land in the Mleiha Desert — Green Belt conservation area for drone planting.
How drones planted Ghaf seeds
CAFU said its R&D team tested the optimal germination of the Ghaf seed in the harsh desert landscape. One important requirement was to create a seedball mixture with the right ratio of nutrients to help the seeds germinate, and that these seedballs needed to be planted to a depth of one centimetre below the ground. “CAFU’s team of engineers and technology experts have designed and developed a pioneering in-house pressurised air mechanism built into the drone, which shoots the seedballs to the required depth, while also geotagging the location to track its progress. So far, the team have undergone two rounds of planting in the Mleiha Desert and expect germination over the coming months,” noted Rashid Al Ghurair, founder and CEO of CAFU.
He added: “Our motivation since the time we launched in 2018, has been to set convenience in motion to make life better for our customers and residents, not just through our services, but through our ethos and values. This is why we set out the ‘CAFU Sustainability Deal’ last year, to act as a responsible business by taking real steps forward in our sustainability agenda to reduce the impact on our environment and the world we live in.
“The Ghaf Tree Project, which forms the central pillar of our sustainability deal, is very close to my heart and I am happy to see the impact we are making on the UAE through this project,” Al Ghurair continued.
Nabra Al Busaidi, CAFU’s Sustainability and Community Manager, added: “we are excited to use our rich findings and technology to move to the next stage where we scale this project to explore other native UAE seed types. I can proudly say that the progress we have made and the support we have received from both government and private entities has been invaluable,” she added.
CAFU also announced a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with UAE University to scale findings to explore other types of native plants suited for the UAE desert landscape, using the same seedball methodology. “We believe this will be a fruitful partnership, as we set out on our journey of R&D that will enable significant progress towards combating climate change,” noted Dr Mohammed Abdul Mohsen Ali Al Yafei, chair and associate professor of the Integrative Agriculture Department at UAE University.