shj ruler at wheat harvest on 2023-03-20
His Highness His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammad Al Qasimi at the harvest Image Credit: Twitter/@HHShkDrSultan

Sharjah: His Highness Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, visited the wheat farm in Maliha, Sharjah, today to attend the first phase of the harvest.

A video of his visit has gone viral on social media, showing him meeting with dignitaries, unveiling a plaque, and observing the wheat being harvested. During his visit, a little girl welcomed Sheikh Sultan to the farm, and he graciously kissed her hand as everyone applauded.

The wheat farm in Maliha was launched in November 2022 to provide food needs and raise production rates to cover the needs of Sharjah’s cities and regions. The first phase of wheat cultivation covered an area of 400 hectares.

The project will be completed in three phases; the first phase will be on an area of 400 hectares, the second phase will be on an area of 880 hectares in 2024, and the third phase will reach its completion on an area of 1,400 hectares in 2025.

The quantities of the UAE’s wheat imports in 2022 amounted to 1.7 million metric tonnes, and the share of the emirate of Sharjah is 330,000 metric tonnes.

The wheat farm in Maliha will contribute, after completing its stages and developing its crops, to reduce the percentage of wheat imports from abroad.

The farm’s infrastructure has been completed, which includes irrigation lines equivalent to 13 linear meters and electrical works equal to 10,000 linear metres.

During his visit, His Highness reviewed the meticulous planning and production processes that went into creating the Seven Sanabel wheat, highlighting the exceptional quality and food safety standards it has achieved. He noted that imported flour available in markets typically has a protein content of no more than 11per cent with some companies boasting about their premium flour having a protein content of 14 per cent.

In contrast, Sharjah wheat has a remarkable 18 per cent protein content. The Sharjah Cooperative Society has already reserved 9,000 tonnes of Seven Sanabel wheat, with the remaining stock to be distributed to other institutions. His Highness said he is confident that, after laboratory and field experiments, a new and even finer type of wheat called "Sharjah-1" will be produced, further enhancing the region's reputation for high-quality agricultural products.

The Ruler of Sharjah has expressed his appreciation for the successful collaboration with various entities and institutions both within and outside the emirate, which greatly contributed to the timely completion of the project.

He specifically commended the efforts of Sheikh Salem bin Mohammed bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Advisor at the Ruler's Office, for his support and encouragement of the idea, as well as his contribution to the establishment of the Wheat Farmers Association.

He emphasised that development projects and the needs of the region are ongoing and extend beyond wheat cultivation alone. He cited the example of the vegetable cultivation project, which was launched two to three years ago with the objective of producing high-quality vegetables that are free from toxins and pesticides.

His Highness expressed concern over the increasing incidence of cancer, which is often caused by the consumption of products that contain harmful toxins. He stressed the importance of growing vegetables that are free from such toxins, not only for the benefit of current generations but also for the wellbeing of future generations. In light of this, the vegetable cultivation project will continue to be a priority for the region.

1,000 Friesian cows

Dr Sheikh Sultan also highlighted concerns regarding animal products, such as milk, which often contain preservatives and lack their true nutritional value due to the removal of essential fatty substances.

To address this issue, a planned cow breeding programme has been initiated, involving 1,000 Friesian cows, all of which are female and purebred. The number of cows is set to double in the near future, and a dairy factory will be established to process the milk they produce, as well as for the production of other dairy-based products. This initiative aims to provide the region with high-quality, nutrient-rich dairy products, free from harmful additives and processed in a sustainable manner.

Water Projects

Dr Sheikh Sultan highlighted the importance of water projects in the UAE, given the desert climate of the country. Several initiatives have been undertaken to provide and store water in various areas. His Highness explained that lakes are being established in several areas of Sharjah, including Lake Al-Batha in Al Dhaid, Al Rafisa in Khorfakkan, and Al Hefiya in Kalba, to serve as a reserve for use in emergency situations. Surplus water from winter periods, when consumption is lower, is being stored and can be used in times of need.

A new reservoir with a capacity of 5 billion gallons is currently under construction in the city in the middle of the mountains, which will be sufficient for agricultural needs and the requirements of the people.

In addition to Al Dhaid Lake, which covers a distance of 2200 km and has valuable features on the region, including its ability to soften weather during hot summer periods and provide moisture to the surrounding areas due to high evaporation rates. These water projects are essential for the sustainable development of the region and will provide a valuable resource for future generations.

In recognition of their significant contributions to the success of the wheat farm project, His Highness honored the sponsors and supporters by presenting them with shields as a token of his appreciation. He expressed his gratitude for their unwavering support and dedication to the project. He also took commemorative photos with the sponsors and supporters to mark the occasion.

Earlier last November, Dr Sheikh Sultan launched the first phase of the wheat farm in Maliha, pointing out the importance of these projects in light of the changes the world is witnessing, which may affect the availability of grains in addition to providing many jobs and other services.