Abu Dhabi: In a move to reduce dependence on locally produced fodder and enable livestock breeders to retain their animals, farmers in the emirate of Abu Dhabi will now be allowed to import a wider variety of high quality fodder, the Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority (ADFCA) announced yesterday.

"We will be importing 500,000 tonnes of fodder, such as concentrated and high fibre, from different countries around the world. This will replace the fodder currently being used by farmers and livestock breeders in the UAE," said Mohammad Jalal Al Reyaysa, Director of Communication and Community Service, ADFCA.

The amount of imported fodder was decided based on the field studies and approved by the Abu Dhabi Executive Council.

"In addition to providing a greater variety, this move will also allow the UAE to decrease the excess consumption of underground water for agricultural purposes," he said.

"In 2011, we reduced the amount of water used to 50 billion gallons, or by 42 per cent. In 2012, we plan to further reduce that to 40 per cent," Al Reyaysa said.

The cultivation of Rhodes grass, which is a water-intensive crop, saw a drastic reduction from 1,550,000 tonnes to 79,000 tonnes as a result of various governmental initiatives.

Additionally, its cultivation was stopped in 10,500 farms out of 16,000 farms in 2011.

"Rhodes grass does not provide a return in terms of nutrition for animals, such as camels, goats and cows compared to the level of water consumed," Al Reyaysa told Gulf News.