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Demand has risen for local homegrown produce in the UAE during the coronavirus pandemic. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Locally produced fruit and vegetables have seen a healthy demand in the first half of the year – boosting domestic food supply, according to figures revealed by the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MoCCAE) on Friday.

The Ministry said UAE-grown agricultural products have already registered sales of about Dh66 million in the first six months of 2020 – almost touching the Dh80 million in total sales achieved in entirety of last year.

Sultan Alwan

“The increase in sales is the outcome of multiple measures taken by the Ministry to boost the contribution of local produce to domestic food supply,” said Sultan Alwan, assistant undersecretary of the Regions Sector at MoCCAE.

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‘Made in UAE’ vegetables and fruit are holding their own against imported products on the shelves of major retail outlets, an official said. Image Credit: Supplied

“We are proud to say that ‘Made in UAE’ vegetables and fruit have won the trust of consumers and are holding their own against imported products on the shelves of major retail outlets,” he added.

Alwan explained: “The ministry has adopted a two-pronged approach to advance the commercial agricultural sector. First, we created markets for locally-grown food products through signing agreements with major retailers, such as Union Cooperative Society in Dubai, as well as Carrefour and Lulu Hypermarket, and through organising and sponsoring exhibitions where farmers can promote and sell their products to consumers directly.”

“Second, we worked closely with local farmers to improve the quality and quantity of their yield. As part of our work with farmers, we have routinely organised capacity-building workshops, where we educated them about modern agricultural practises and pest management solutions,” he added.

‘Made in UAE’

Another senior official at MoCCAE had earlier told Gulf News that the coronavirus pandemic had driven home the need to boost local production of food items.

Mohammed Al Dhanhani, MoCCAE director of the Agriculture Development and Health Department, said: "The UAE is stepping up its efforts to support local farmers and explore innovative cultivation methods that are suitable for our desert climate.”

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Rice, coffee and wheat production are being trialled in UAE to improve self-sufficiency in food production. Image Credit: Supplied

The ministry further said that it was regularly monitoring farms across the country to ensure farmers were aware of and complied with relevant regulations, including pest control.

Citing an example for pest control, Alwan said: “The ministry has implemented the Nakheelna initiative to combat date palm pests, particularly the red palm weevils, in 9,000 farms with over 2.5 million palm trees.”

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“We also support local farmers by making more than 30 high-quality agricultural inputs available to them at half the market price,” he added.