The UAE’s move to build food resilience after the 2008-09 financial crisis is paying off amid the coronavirus crisis. Rice cultivation picked up in UAE as government plans to produce more food domestically.
Rice Cultivation Picks up in UAE
The UAE last month harvested around 1,700 kilograms of rice in the emirate of Sharjah in partnership with South Korea’s Rural Development Administration. The partners used an East Asian variety- Asemi due to its resilience to heat and salty soils. Besides, they used an underground irrigation system with desalinated seawater that drips water instead of spraying.
Working Towards Self-Sufficiency
DG of the International Center for Biosaline Agriculture states that the instinct of panic buying in April was normal as 80% of food is imported. Nonetheless, the UAE government was confident to keep supermarket shelves stocked up by making sure uninterrupted supply from abroad. Further, Elouafi said that country has rightly harnessed the benefits of innovation and has made agriculture profitable. World Bank reported that the contribution of agriculture to the country’s GDP rose from USD 2.39 billion in 2012 to USD 3.06 billion in 2018.
Strengthening International Alliances
UAE minister of climate change and environment stated that the pandemic has prodded the nation to explore new ways to grow. Apart from this, the country plans to become self-sufficient in coffee and wheat. It is experimenting with vertical farms that grow crops inside climate-controlled facilities. However, the government is still working to strengthen its overseas supply network for food, ensuring that its international alliances are much more reliable than before.
Constant efforts for innovation
The UAE had 50 hydroponic farms in 2009, and now it has grown to over 1000 such farms. The Middle Eastern country focuses on growing crops indoor to battle the harsh climate. Also, there has been a drastic increase in vertical farms where crops are grown using LED lighting and drip systems.
In all, the country is tapping the available resources and using innovation to meet its domestic demand.