Algae advances and robotic revelations: How the UAE is striving to enhance food security
To find out more about food sustainability solutions, Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri had recently visited Australia, New Zealand, Netherlands, and Singapore.
The lessons learned from these countries will culminate in UAE’s National Strategy for Future Food Security, an initiative that will launch next month.
During her visit to the University of Technology Sydney, Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri discussed the UAE’s research in using algae in food production.
She revealed that the blooms have wide applications, such as serving as a source of nutrition for human, animal, and fish.
The UAE delegation also reviewed how algae could provide threefold more protein yield than beef using virtually no land or freshwater.
Last year, researchers from the UAE found a microalga which contains adaptive traits for desert acclimatisation. As the algae also contain oily molecules that have a similar composition to palm oil, this opens up the possibility for growing the algae as an alternative to oil palm trees.
The UAE delegation also discussed the commercial viability and potential application of robotics in minimising food waste during their visit to the Queensland University of Technology.
The research combined robotic vision and automation to develop new agricultural prototypes for identifying and harvesting food produce. It ensures that no crops were bruised or destroyed in the process.
In addition, the delegation visited urban community farms to witness how these farms provided city-dwellers the opportunities to grow vegetables in urban settings.
The delegation agreed that such initiative was much needed in the UAE, since the country's reliance on imported food could downplay the community’s connection with food.
“Our visit to Australia was the middle stop on a three-leg international tour to find out more on how countries in the Asia-Pacific region are creating strategies to deal with food security. We discussed facilitating food trade and establishing regional food hubs,” Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri said.
“We have been able to draw some incredible insights from our visit that will help shape the finalising of the UAE’s National Food Security Strategy, which will be released in September this year and which will set out long-term policies for future food security in the UAE,” she concluded.
Healthier delicious food
During the Australia trip, the UAE delegation also visited business incubators that push for innovations in the food production process.
The delegation hoped that these innovations could be used in the UAE to make healthy and delicious foods.
We recently reported that healthier eating is on the rise in the Middle East, with more local manufacturers producing food with less sugar, fats, salt and gluten-free. This has attracted interest from overseas firms to sell clean label ingredients in the region.