Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid
Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Image Credit: WAM

Dubai A $1 million Food Technology Challenge has been launched to achieve food security in the UAE, turning it into a leading global hub for food security.

The seven-month Food Technology Challenge, the world’s largest food security programme, was launched yesterday (Monday) by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

The $1 million prize will be given to four winners who will find solutions to the agricultural and food sectors through food value chains. The winners will be announced in April 2020.

The new initiative aims to develop innovative solutions to produce and manage food in the UAE and harness advanced technology in creating efficient tools and techniques that help overcome challenges facing the agricultural sector, leading to the sustainability of food production.

“The Food Technology Challenge will open prospects for regional and international cooperation to create a unified vision on global food security. We look forward that the UAE will be at the heart of this vision, as achieving food security is a main pillar for development sustainability,” Sheikh Mohammed said.

The food technology challenge, which aims to achieve food security- a key pillar of sustainable development- is in line with the goals of the National Food Security Strategy 2051, which aims to develop a comprehensive national system based on enabling sustainable food production through the use of modern technologies.

The launch of the Challenge was organised by the Food Security Centre in partnership with  Tamkeen, an Abu Dhabi based company mandated to deliver projects to meet the UAE’s vision of knowledge-based development.

The UAE’s food strategy also aims to define the elements of the national food basket in compliance with the country’s needs within an overall future vision that considers population growth and prospects for economic, community and technological development as well as global environmental and climate change challenges.

Sheikh Mohammed said: “We have to invest in qualified cadres and scientific expertise to find innovative and exceptional solutions to develop a sustainable agricultural system. We welcome global expertise and creative minds in the UAE and entire world, to be part of the food technology challenge.”

Nothing is impossible

The Vice-President said the UAE adopts a culture that nothing is impossible-that makes it qualified to play a major role in achieving food security in the UAE and greater region.

“Long ago, some experts said that our land is not suitable for agriculture. We proved they were mistaken as we now have more than 40, 000 farms, up from 4,000 in 1971,” he emphasised.

He underlined the importance of combining efforts and enhancing partnerships and collaborative between the public and private sector as well as between regional and international organisations to build a unified global vision on the world food security.

The food technology challenge also aims to encourage companies and individuals as well as scientific and research institutions in the UAE and the world to utilise advanced technology in developing innovative ideas and effective tools to produce food in the UAE and find creative solutions to various local challenges facing the farming sector and food production.

It promotes the participation of community members in the food system by drawing the best minds and scientific experiences from all over the world, in order to bridge today’s food gap.

The UAE imports 90 per cent of its food and its agricultural sector and sustainable food productions face many challenges.

The challenge will be sponsored by Abu Dhabi Agriculture and Food Safety Authority, Masdar City, New York University Abu Dhabi, Al Dahra Group and Catalyst, the region’s first clean technology startup accelerator based in Masdar City.

Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, Sheikh Maktoum Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Sheikh Mansour Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, were also present.