UAE Climate and Agriculture; Climate Change, Sustainable Agriculture Innovation, Climate Farming & Food Future

Eslam Mobarak
Published 6 months ago on 19 October, 2023-651 views
UAE climate and agriculture and National systems of Sustainable Agriculture

UAE Climate and Agriculture Ministry intends to build on years of bilateral cooperation to address global climate challenges. The United Arab Emirates and the United States are leading the Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate Change (AIM for Climate). AIM for Climate was officially launched at the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26). Over the next five years, the initiative will bring together a coalition of 50 countries to significantly increase and accelerate agricultural innovation.

This will help to improve existing approaches and provide new avenues for increasing agricultural productivity, improving livelihoods, and adapting to and building resilience to climate change.

UAE climate and agriculture

In May 2023, UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment Mariam Almheiri will co-lead the Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate Summit in Washington, DC, with Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. The event united public and private sector partners to confront the climate challenge and make agriculture more sustainable, equitable, and resilient.

Partners in AIM for Climate have raised $13 billion in funding for climate-smart agriculture and food system innovation. HE Mariam Almheiri, UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment, and Tom Vilsack, US Secretary of Agriculture, work together regularly to lead the initiative, which includes hosting the first AIM for Climate ministerial meeting in February 2022.

The UAE will continue to promote climate-smart policies as it prepares to host COP28 in 2023, where sustainable agriculture innovation will be a crucial focus.

Read more: UAE Desert Climate

UAE Leading in Sustainable Agriculture

Sustainable Agriculture in UAE
Sustainable Agriculture in UAE

Because of rising investments and a more determined political focus on overcoming food and water scarcity, the United Arab Emirates is becoming a place to develop a thriving, sustainable agriculture industry. Dwindling groundwater reserves, predominantly arid conditions, and historically low water consumption levels drive the rapid growth of innovative sustainable agricultural methods and technologies, or ‘AgTech,’ in the UAE and the wider GCC.

Perhaps the stark reminder that the UAE needs to embrace significant agricultural change quickly is that it still imports 90% of its food. At the same time, food accounts for 55% of all waste produced, which is already unsustainable. With so much food being brought in cheaply from abroad, only to be wasted, AgTech is quickly becoming an essential part of the UAE’s drive to change a long-established status quo of food insecurity.

Read more: UAE Temperature Trends

National Program of Sustainable Agriculture

The national sustainable agriculture program aims to improve farm efficiency, increase food self-sufficiency, and create new opportunities to ensure that the agriculture sector remains among the best. Learn more about the national sustainable agriculture system.

The UAE’s Ministry of Climate Change and Environment has prioritised increasing farmers’ use of hydroponic technology, which uses nutrient-rich water to grow plants with little or no soil. The method saves up to 70% of water while extending the growing season and avoiding harmful chemicals; 87 commercial farms currently use this technology.

Take a look at: UAE Coastal Geography

Organic Farming in The United Arab Emirates

Organic Farming in UAE
Organic Farming in UAE

In February 2012, the Emirates Authority for Standardization and Metrology (ESMA) launched an organic food certification scheme with a logo, allowing consumers to easily distinguish organic products from conventional ones. Approximately half of the 40 existing organic farms have already been certified, with others in the process.

Read more: UAE Karst Topography

Changes in the Agricultural Sector

Agriculture is an ancient activity in the UAE, practised in Ras Al Khaimah, Fujairah, Al Ain, and some oases such as the Liwa Oasis. Despite problems such as a scarcity of water resources and arable land, soil salinity, difficult environmental conditions, high production costs, agricultural pests, and post-harvest losses, the sector has been overgrown since 1971.

Agriculture has evolved into an economic activity that relies on cutting-edge technology. The late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan was instrumental in the evolution and development of the country’s agriculture sector. Massive efforts were made to conserve water resources, encouraging the adoption and installation of modern irrigation systems to replace flood irrigation methods, which waste a lot of water.

The Abu Dhabi Agriculture & Food Safety Authority is the Emirate of Abu Dhabi’s local authority in charge of agriculture, food safety, food security, and biosecurity. It is responsible for developing agricultural plans, programs, activities, food safety, and security.

Read more: Impact of Global Warming on UAE

Planting a Long-term Crop for the UAE’s Food Future

With many ongoing natural and environmental challenges to overcome, the UAE and the wider Gulf region are committing to innovation and fresh thinking. The proliferation of AgTech is quickly spurring more extraordinary efforts to turn what was once considered ‘futile’ natural occurrences of arid land, saline soil, and wastewater into assets that could pave the way for the UAE’s future sustainability and prosperity. And, as is customary, the UAE is providing an invaluable roadmap for other countries to follow by leading the charge on sustainability investment.

Read more: UAE Islands and Archipelagos

Farms to Create an Ecosystem of Sustainable Agriculture

Emirates Bio Farm (EBF), which provides locally grown, organic produce to residents of the United Arab Emirates, is one of the UAE Farms that contribute to creating a Sustainable Agriculture Ecosystem. Committed to spreading the sustainability message, EBF also works to educate the public about the environmental impact of agricultural practices and dietary choices.

EBF, founded in 2016, is the UAE’s largest organic farm. EBF’s Deputy General Manager, Yazen Al Kodmani, tells Food Tank that they currently produce more than 55 different types of fruits, vegetables and eggs in greenhouses and shade houses. Eaters who purchase a produce subscription box from EBF can sample the farm’s seasonal offerings. “When broccoli is in season, watermelon is in season, okra or lady’s finger is in season,” consumers say. “And then they appreciate it,” Al Kodmani tells Food Tank.

Take a look at: UAE challenges

Farmers in the UAE are innovating to meet the Climate Change Challenges

Agriculture Innovation in UAE
Agriculture Innovation in UAE

Farmers in the UAE are turning to modern techniques to overcome conditions caused primarily by climate change as summer temperatures reach 48°C by mid-July. Farmers worldwide have been feeling the effects of climate change in recent years, with extreme weather and less predictable seasons transforming pastures and croplands.

To help prepare the agricultural sector for the effects of climate change, the UAE and the US announced a joint fund at Cop26 in Glasgow. The fund, which reached its $10 billion goal in May, will support projects that reduce the effects of climate change, prepare for its consequences, and assist in lifting people out of poverty.

Climate change challenges UAE farmers, requiring advanced knowledge and experience to adapt to its effects. Dr Mohammad Al Oun, a food security consultant, grows a variety of fruits, including Pakistani mangoes and lemons, 15 different types of bananas, Chinese bayberries, Japanese oranges, Indian cashews, Chikoo, lychees, and star fruits. It takes just as much attention and ingenuity to succeed. As global temperatures reach unprecedented highs, UAE farmers face many climate-related challenges.

Read more: UAE Mangrove Forests

What are the difficulties that face agriculture in the UAE?

Rising temperatures and dwindling water supplies present numerous challenges for farmers already dealing with arid conditions. As summer temperatures in the UAE reach 48°C by mid-July, farmers are turning to modern techniques to combat conditions caused mainly by climate change.

How does the climate affect the UAE?

Rising sea levels threaten the UAE’s critical infrastructure, including desalination plants and power plants, and habitats on coastal zones facing the Persian Gulf or the Gulf of Oman.

What type of agriculture does the UAE have?

UAE’s agriculture heavily relies on technology and primarily grows vegetables and fruits. Dates, tomatoes, cabbage, eggplant, cauliflower, squash, bougainvillea, tropical hibiscus, eggplant, mangoes, and citrus fruits are among the crops grown.

What is the climate of the UAE?

The UAE has an arid desert climate with only two seasons, winter and summer, separated by two transitional periods. The average temperature during the winter from December to March ranges from 16.4°C to 24°C.

UAE Climate and agriculture have been severely impacted, where the desert covers more than three-quarters of the total land area. Low rainfall, high temperatures, poor soil, and a lack of natural waterways characterise the UAE’s environment. The UAE has invested heavily in developing a sustainable agricultural and animal wealth industry to improve its food security and national economy.

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