“With similarities in the climatic conditions as well as in the opportunities and challenges faced by the sector in MENA, it is important to have a higher level of cooperation to benefit from the experiences of the various nations to overcome the challenges and to invest in opportunities to improve food security,” said Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri.
She highlighted the opportunities for new partnerships in the MENA region as well as the need to stimulate further interest in boosting agricultural and industrial food production. In this regard, she said SMEs play a significant role, especially in increasing the level of food production and trade.
The minister stated that the UAE is especially keen to strengthen its economic cooperation with Egypt.
“There are strong prospects for enhancing the UAE-Egypt relations at all levels, particularly in the field of food and agricultural production,” said Almheiri.
She further expressed strong interest in the strengthening of partnerships between the organisations in the two countries and that there are opportunities to expand the productive partnerships and to benefit from the unique experience of both countries in research and development related to food security.
She also called for the deepening of partnerships between private sector entities in the UAE and Egypt.
Almheiri said this on a recent strategic visit to Egypt, when she toured several key facilities related to food security and agricultural production, and discussed with top Egyptian officials from both the government and the private sector on ways to boost cooperation between the two countries to achieve the highest levels of future food security.
UAE’s national strategy
Not long ago, Almheiri said harmonising the UAE’s research efforts as part of a comprehensive national programme is key to establishing a comprehensive national strategy to achieve future food security.
This will help to adopt the outcomes of scientific research in an ideal way, promote effective practices and improve the country’s international competitiveness in food security.
As part of the country’s research on future food security, Almheiri will oversee the International Centre for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA), which conducts applied agricultural research with the aim of aligning relevant international, regional and national research efforts.
"Due to the ongoing support of the UAE government, IDB (Islamic Development Bank) and other donors, our centre has continued to address key environmental challenges, such as climate change, lack of food security and scarcity of water. It has also helped agricultural communities with limited resources in various countries," said Dr Ismahane Elouafi, Director General of the ICBA.
"This (appointment) will make us continue our work to strengthen our cooperation with government authorities, research institutions and universities in the UAE, to support national initiatives related to food security, nutrition and water management," she said.
ICBA is an international, non-profit research-for-development organisation that aims to strengthen agricultural productivity through identifying, testing and facilitating access to sustainable solutions for food, nutrition and income security.
Previously, we reported, according to the International Food Policy Research Institute, one of the biggest challenges to food security in the MENA region is armed conflict.
Nonetheless, the region can improve if conflicts subside, leaders create a business-friendly environment conducive for job creation, and governments invest in safety nets and technology needed to improve food security.