Dr Rashid Ahmad Bin Fahd being briefed about the working of the centre. He said it will help enhance food safety in the country and promote the sustainability of local production. Image Credit: WAM

Sharjah: On Wednesday, the Ministry of Environment and Water opened the Agricultural Innovation Centre in the Al Dhaid area of Sharjah.

The centre was inaugurated by Dr Rashid Ahmad Bin Fahd, Minister of Environment and Water.

The new facility aims to promote the UAE’s latest agricultural advancements and maintain the agricultural sector’s sustainability in the UAE through state-of-the-art technological innovations, research and relevant consultations.

The minister said the venture falls in line with UAE Vision 2021, which is inspired by the National Work Programme of His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE.

The launch also complements the National Innovation Strategy recently unveiled by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. The strategy will strive to make the UAE one of the world’s most innovative countries in seven years by focusing on seven major sectors including renewable energy, technology and water.

Dr Bin Fahad added that the Agricultural Innovation Centre is part of the Ministry’s strategy to enhance food safety in the country and promote the sustainability of local production.

While touring the new centre, he was also briefed on the ongoing research about greenhouses and hydroponic systems development, as well as the experiments conducted to cultivate quinoa.

Following last year’s successful experimental results, the ministry is planning to expand the cultivation area for quinoa to introduce the farmers to its uses and benefits. This will pave the way for the integration of quinoa, which is used in many food industries as it offers lucrative economic returns and has the ability to grow in hot and dry climates such as the UAE.

The centre also aims to promote cooperation and exchange of expertise among concerned local authorities and relevant regional and international research centres in the UAE and the rest of the world.

It will organise international workshops on agricultural innovation in coordination with local, regional and international partners as well as participate in industry-specialised events.

It will also collaborate with international organisations, authorities and industry experts, namely the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations and the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas. The centre will cooperate with the International Centre for Biosaline Agriculture as well as participate in various joint studies covering local agricultural segments such as a study on the effects of multiple levels of salinity on the production of some salinity-tolerant agricultural and pastoral crops.