Abu Dhabi hopes to lead agricultural revolution

By Noel Ebdon

- Last updated on GMT

Lack of access to water is a crucial stumbling block on the path to food security in the Middle East
Lack of access to water is a crucial stumbling block on the path to food security in the Middle East

Related tags Middle east Food security United arab emirates

The first Global Forum for Innovations in Agriculture (GFIA) is set to take place in Abu Dhabi early next year, aiming to turn the spotlight on the future of agriculture in the region.

Due to the geographical nature of the Gulf, affecting the climate, and producing a lack of water and farmable ground, food self-sufficiency currently is not a viable option for the Middle East.

While, for the time being, this has resulted in a reliance on imported goods, the future of agriculture is set to come under scrutiny. The debut edition of the GFIA hopes to address this issue of future food insecurity, with the theme being ‘driving innovation for an agricultural revolution’. And, with the world’s population expected to reach nine billion by 2050, the need for both a regional and global reassessment of the agricultural system is one that cannot be ignored.

Mohamed Jalal Al Rayssi, Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority’s director of communication and community service, said: “The leadership of the UAE has placed the full weight of its resources and political will behind taking a leadership role in the movement to design and implement sustainable agricultural initiatives in arid and semi-arid regions.

“Our goal is to unite the Middle East behind sustainable solutions for food security and to harness new technologies for our desert landscape. GFIA is key to facilitating knowledge transfer and to demonstrate investment opportunities available to regional and international players.”

As Food Navigator recently reported​, findings from The Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House) revealed that food insecurity is considered to be an even greater issue than ever before within the Middle East, due to political instability in the Gulf and surrounding areas, which could threaten the flow of produce into the region. With choke points around the Suez Canal and Straits of Hormuz, this issue is topping the agenda for GCC governments.

Abu Dhabi hopes to lead the way for the rest of the Middle East in addressing – and finding solutions for – the future of food security across the globe. The GFIA, which will be held from February 3-5, 2014, will explore sustainable agriculture initiatives already in use, all aimed towards increasing food security and providing long-lasting sources of homegrown produce – particularly difficult in an area with infertile land and a scarcity of water.

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