MBZ 0001 March 31, 2020
Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Image Credit: Screengrab

Abu Dhabi: Food security is the UAE’s top priority and despite challenges its food supply chain will never be impacted, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces told his virtual Ramadan majlis on Wednesday.

Sheikh Mohammed extended thanks and appreciation to His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, for choosing outstanding leaders to lead the country through these tough times.

“No doubt, there is some shortage, but what a great job to feed 10 million people and, moreover, extend a helping hand to 10 more countries, hit by the crisis,” Sheikh Mohammed said.

Sheikh Mohammed particularly thanked the UAE Food Security Council as well as the ministries of Economy, Climate Change and Environment, Education, Health and Prevention, and Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, which worked together as a teamwork during these tough times.

‘You did it the right way to sustainably maintain the UAE’s food security. The least we can say is thank you,” Sheikh Mohammed said.

Earlier, the minister in charge of food security allayed panic by reassuring that the UAE has enough supplies of food and medicine to address the challenge of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I know many of you are worried .. I want to reassure you that we are doing our best to ensure that everyone has enough food in the UAE,” Mariam Bint Mohammad Saeed Hareb Al Muhairi, Minister of State for Food Security, told the majlis of Sheikh Mohammed in the lecture broadcast live on Al Emarat TV Channel and posted on Youtube.

The UAE launched the National Food Security Strategy 2051, which aims to achieve zero hunger by ensuring access to safe, nutritious and sufficient food all year round throughout the world. The strategy specifically aims to implement resilient agricultural practices that increase productivity and production, that help maintain ecosystems.

The minister said in 2017, my team and I developed the National Strategy for Food Security in cooperation with all concerned authorities ..Thus the UAE now has a plan that includes more than 38 initiatives and programmes to ensure food security for the country at all times and especially at these tough times.

Al Muhairi pointed out that when the COVID-19 crisis started weeks ago, we were able to deal with it quickly, ensuring that food chains across the UAE do not experience any interruption, and that there is no gap in the supply chains.

UAE’s food imports currently stand at 90 per cent.

Al Muhairi said, “We have three resources: sun, sand, and sea, and I hope that using these three resources in the future will enable us to grow our food and reduce our dependence on supply chains from abroad.”

She urged the public not to buy food in excess of their need and to eat healthy foods to boost their immunity.

“The UAE has established strong partnerships and ties with countries of the world since its inception, which paid off in times like these,” Al Muhairi said.

The minister affirmed the UAE is dealing with the current crisis as a new opportunity to build a stronger and more flexible system.

She encouraged people to consume local food. “Many people do not know this, but the UAE is growing many types of food. These foods are delicious because they are fresh, but they are full of nutrients. So we encourage the public to buy local goods .. This is also an opportunity for local producers to grow more, and do not forget the important role of technology in enabling food production locally.”

Al Muhairi said the Office of Food Security has put in place many initiatives to enhance agricultural technologies in the UAE and this is the golden time for those who use technology to grow their food because it is a sustainable way, achieves efficiency and builds a strong system.

“We can work on it to start growing more food in the UAE..I am glad and honored that I will lead a team to develop a new sector of agricultural technology in the Emirates, which was announced by the Cabinet just a couple of days ago .. this sector will be vital to enhance food security in the future.”

She said every one of us has a responsibility not to waste food because the more food we waste, the more we need it .. and as we all know, there are still more than 800 million people go to bed hungry each night .. so we have to take great care in how much food we throw in the garbage bin and try minimising waste, and encouraging society to adopt better eating and health habits.

Al Muhairi expressed her thanks and appreciation to the frontline heroes, who risk their lives and sacrifice their time with their families to do their work and keep us safe.

“By heroes I mean not only doctors, nurses and the police but also those who work in supermarkets, and farmers. They, too, are frontline workers who ensure that food is brought to the market so that people can consume it and maintain their health and strengthen their immune system to emerge from this crisis stronger.

The Ramadan series of lectures is part of Shaikh Mohammad’s efforts to spread the spirit of knowledge and learning in the UAE, by inviting renowned scholars, experts, officials and entrepreneurs to speak of vital issues.