Food and Water Security Office hosts R&D Inception Workshop with UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization

  • Workshop attended by H.E. Mariam Almeheiri and FAO Subregional Coordinator
  • Session came under the umbrella of the Saudi-Emirati Coordination Council

Dubai: The Food and Water Security Office today (Monday) held a Research and Development (R&D) Inception Workshop in cooperation with the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), as part of the project: Strengthening Research, Technology and Innovation to Enable Food Security. 

Held under the umbrella of the Saudi-Emirati Coordination Council, the workshop came within the framework of improving the entire food system in the UAE. Its goal was to activate mechanisms to ensure technology-enabled local food production, as well as empower the entire food and agricultural sector to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, in particular SDG 2 – ‘Zero Hunger.’

The workshop was held in the presence of Her Excellency Mariam Bint Mohamed Almheiri, Minister of State for Food and Water Security, and Dr Dino Francescutti Motis, FAO Subregional Coordinator and FAO representative in the UAE.

Also participating were Dena Assaf, United Nation’s resident coordinator in the UAE (UNRC);  Alaa Juma, Director of Technical Services, Agricultural Affairs; Abu Dhabi Agriculture and Food Safety Authority (ADAFSA); Seta Tutundjian, Director of Programs, International Center for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA); Bhanu Chowdhary, Dean, College of Food and Agriculture, United Arab Emirates University; Selvaraju Ramasamy, Head of the Research and Extension Unit, Office of Innovation, FAO; Armen Sedrakyan, Economist, and Abdoulaye Saley Moussa, Natural Resources Officer, FAO Sub-Regional Office for GCC States and Yemen.

“The UAE gives utmost importance to enabling a strong food sector by using scientific research and modern technology and applying them in the entire food value chain in order to enhance local production of food, and enhance the sector’s readiness for any future changes, which we seek to achieve through the UAE National Food Security Strategy. Today’s workshop represents the first step in implementing a project aimed at promoting research, technology and innovation in this field, in cooperation with all relevant parties. We aim to help shape the features of the next plan and to take concrete steps to enhance our food security in cooperation with the FAO, which has unrivalled economic and technical expertise in this field,” said H.E. Almheiri.

“In cooperation with the FAO, we are looking forward to creating a global pioneering model for food security enabled by modern technology in order to enhance our national food security and increase our contribution to eliminating hunger in the world. We are also keen to harness all our efforts in cooperation with all entities in the UAE to participate in designing the future of national food security by providing all available capabilities and resources through which we aim to enable all citizens and residents to have access to safe, sufficient, and nutritious food for an active and healthy life at affordable prices at all times, including emergencies and crises”. Her Excellency added.

 “The importance of research, technology and innovation for the transformation of food systems cannot be overemphasized. Evidence suggests that investment in agricultural research and innovation generates significant economic returns and wide societal returns, notably through its impact on productivity and food security. It also delivers environmental and social benefits even though these are harder to quantify. The FAO acknowledges and believes that innovation in agriculture is the central driving force for achieving a world free from hunger and malnutrition” said Dr. Dino Francescutti Motis, FAO Subregional Coordinator and FAO representative in the UAE.

The workshop’s participants undertook a review of all solutions, mechanisms and means of cooperation in order to implement the Strengthening Research, Technology and Innovation to Enable Food Security project, which will last for 10 months. The project aims to empower food security, develop a common approach to the research, technology and innovation agenda and design a roadmap for the UAE to enhance food security in cooperation with various partners from federal and local authorities.

The first workshop in the programme, today’s session was devoted to discussing R&D in the UAE’s food system. It will be followed by another workshop dedicated to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, with a final joint workshop that includes the outcomes of alignment and cooperation in R&D between the two countries.

The Strengthening Research, Technology and Innovation to Enable Food Security workshop programme was organised from a coordination session held in November 2020. This preliminary meeting agreed on the most important areas of cooperation and the methodology for implementing the project, with the details discussed by representatives from the UAE and Saudi Arabia.