Agriculture: The Basis of Food Security
- 6 July 2020
The agriculture sector is integral to sustainable development in the UAE. Along with the industrial and service sectors, it represents the third side of the production triangle. A strong agricultural sector is therefore fundamental to food security and a balanced economy, without which states are left vulnerable to disruption in food supplies.
Agriculture is the primary source of food and many of the raw materials humanity needs for survival. Human life is therefore impossible without a strong agricultural sector and a balanced environment, which supports food security.
The religious and cultural significance of agriculture in the UAE’s heritage means that farming has historically been a focus of great interest. However, because the required resources for agriculture to thrive are limited, sustainability in this sector has been a concern since the establishment of the UAE. Scarce water resources, a harsh climate, and sandy soil with high salinity make any large-scale agricultural activity unfeasible. The late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan (may God rest his soul in peace) rose to this challenge and turned large swathes of the desert into gardens and farms. Thus, the UAE is one of the top countries in the world for the cultivation of the palm tree, with more than 40 million date palms and plans to plant an additional one million palm trees before the Expo 2020 Dubai next year.
The late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan (may God rest his soul in peace) saw the UAE’s potential to provide a sustainable agricultural base for the Emirati people. Therefore, he embarked on a program of combating desertification through the building of new farms to be distributed among the citizens. Through this, he supported the development of a strong agricultural sector. He was keen to instil a love of it in the hearts of Emiratis, to be passed on through successive generations, to better-connect the people to their land. He saw it as an additional way of fostering a patriotic spirit, enhancing the virtue of belonging from one generation to the next.
Thanks to his foresight and relentless determination, which was inherited by the wise leadership of today, the UAE has succeeded in realizing various scientific breakthroughs in the field of agriculture, alongside countless other achievements. After expanding the cultivation of a diverse array of vegetables and fruits, the country’s ambition led to the development of new methods and techniques. The UAE has focused on growing strategic crops, such as wheat and rice, with promising results. It has begun to import and cultivate many types of leafy greens that never existed in the region before, driven by a long-term goal of moving away from total dependency on food imports to become a food producing country. The UAE has made great progress towards self-sufficiency in many of these crops.
It was for these reasons that His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces (may God protect him), stressed the vital importance of the agricultural sector during his recent visit to a number of innovative new farms owned by UAE youth. He stressed that these farms, and the wider ambition they represent, constitute an integral part of the UAE’s strategy for food security and building a sustainable economy. His Highness explained that these farms, as well as other forms of agriculture in the UAE, can enhance its self-sufficiency and reduce dependency on external resources.
Local production and sustainable consumption are the first steps towards achieving food security. Indeed the UAE, led by its wise leadership, continues on this journey with determination. Enhancing the country’s food security further requires adherence to the directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan (may God protect him). He has called for greater investment in agriculture, ongoing development of its methods and enhanced productivity by leveraging innovation to maintain the standards of sustainability, quality and competitiveness.