Efficient Food Supply Chain, Top Priority Of UAE Leadership: Mariam Almheiri

DUBAI, (Pakistan Point News - 14th Apr, 2021) The UAE’s aim to further enhance food security in the country and attain number one ranking in the Global Food Security Index by 2051 were the key focus areas at a webinar titled "Agritech - Enhancing Food Security in the UAE", organised by DP World, UAE Region and Jebel Ali Free Zone (Jafza) in collaboration with the middle East Economic Digest (MEED).

The webinar was held virtually in the presence of Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri, UAE Minister of State for Food and Water Security, who delivered a keynote speech and Mohammed Al Muallem, CEO & Managing Director of DP World, UAE Region and CEO of Jafza, who delivered the opening remarks.

Abdulla bin Damithan, Chief Commercial Officer, DP World, UAE Region; Djamal Djouhri, CEO, Al Ghurair Resources Oils and Proteins (AGROP) and Al Ghurair Foods (AGF), Al Ghurair; Ralph Nehme, Senior Director, AeroFarms participated in a panel discussion moderated by Richard Thompson, Editorial Director, MEED.

Almheiri said, "Ensuring the efficiency of the food supply chain is a top priority for our leadership in the UAE. Key players such as DP World, UAE Region and their flagship port and free zone play a pivotal role in enhancing the UAE’s leading position as a global trade hub, and especially food trade. This supports our National Food Security Strategy in facilitating food trade, in which the strategy serves as a roadmap to overcome all food-related challenges via innovative solutions such as accelerated adoption of agricultural technology (Agritech), a strategic direction for the UAE. Agritech will help increase our domestic food production while minimising the use of water, one of the scarcest resources in our region."

"Agritech is transforming the UAE with a growing landscape of Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA’s) in the form of indoor greenhouses and vertical farms that typically use 95 percent less water than traditional farms," she added Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, Group Chairman and CEO of DP World, said, "Food security has been a priority in the UAE since its inception. From being a country that primarily has vast stretches of desert land to now being a booming hub for Agritech, we have indeed come a long way. It is the concerted efforts of our wise leadership that have helped us attain a leading status in this sphere, whilst being a testimony of our commitment to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals."

DP World, UAE Region has been a key contributor to the growth of the F&B sector in the UAE and the region owing to its foodstuff, livestock, and agricultural products sector in Jafza that is valued at AED13.3 billion. The flagship free zone’s dedicated F&B cluster is spread over an area of 1.55 million square metres and supports more than 4,700 port customers and hosts over 550 companies from more than 70 countries in Jafza.

Al Muallem said, "Our wise leadership has made great efforts to tackle the environmental challenges, including the inadequacy of water and rain, the consequences of climate change, global warming, the scarcity of fertile land, and the growing population with initiatives such as the National Food Security Strategy 2051 and the Emirates Food Security Council to enhance the flow of the food supply chain. In fact, in June last year, the Federal Cabinet approved a national system for sustainable agriculture to improve the efficiency of farms in the UAE, enhancing our self-sufficiency in food. "

As part of the panel discussion, Bin Damithan said, "Supply chain has a pivotal role in the growth of any economy. Disruption in the supply chain has a direct impact on Food Security. There is huge scope on how we can achieve sustainability with technological innovation and management of food and agriculture with futuristic solutions. The recently launched F&B Terminal at DP World is a progression in achieving this goal, which is aligned with the country’s vision to establish the UAE through Dubai as a leading innovation and F&B hub."

Djouhri said, "Dubai is the gateway to 61 percent of the UAE's F&B trade by value. However, despite being a nation that is largely food secure it is essential to carve a roadmap that will help us prepare for the challenges of the future, which can include increased pressure on demand and supply for food and water resources."

DP World, UAE Region, takes full advantage of its network that efficiently reaches global markets and over 3.5 billion consumers.

Commenting on the urgent need for sustainability of the food supply value chain using new improved methods and technologies, Ralph Nehme explained, "Since 2004, we, at AeroFarms, have been pioneering and leading commercial indoor vertical farming and agriculture from genetics to post-harvest to create a more sustainable approach."

Giving insights on urban agriculture, Henry Gordon Smith, Sustainability Strategist, Agriculture Consulting said, "According to a report by Fitch Solution’s the UAE consumer spending over 2021 is positive with real household spending projected to reach AED505.6 billion in 2021. Higher spending power will lead to an increase in demand in the sector. To guarantee no food shortage, countries around the world can use the power of urban agriculture that can provide the global population with at least 10 percent of its fresh fruit and vegetable supply."