The Ministry of Climate Change and Environment hosted the “Farmers’ Forum” at the Al Dhaid Cultural Center in the Emirate of Sharjah. The forum included a dialogue session with farmers that focused on strengthening the marketing of local agricultural products and striving towards food security and sustainability in the UAE. This was part of the Ministry’s ongoing initiatives and efforts to empower the national agricultural sector and support local farmers.
The event was attended by His Excellency Engineer Mohammed Mousa Al Ameeri, Assistant Undersecretary for the Food Diversity Sector, Her Excellency Sheikha Al Ali, Acting Assistant Undersecretary for the Regions Sector, and a number of department and region directors and heads of departments in the Ministry. A large number of farmers from various regions of the country also participated, in addition to representatives of the Ministry’s partners from the Emirates Development Bank, Manbat (Arada).
The forum sought to closely understand farmers’ challenges, discuss the best ways solutions, and highlight developments related to opening markets and sales outlets to receive national agricultural products.
His Excellency Engineer Mohammed Mousa Al Ameeri said: “The UAE places utmost importance on enhancing national food security on a sustainable basis. This is evident in the efforts and projects over the past years to strengthen the application of modern agricultural technology across the entire food value chain. The recent announcement of the “COP28 Food Systems and Agriculture Program” further represents our nation’s leadership in this field and the integration of food sustainability with efforts to combat climate change.”
He affirmed that the UAE focuses on enhancing the country’s food and agriculture systems in line with advanced modern technologies to increase food production, conserve natural resources from waste, and reduce the sector’s carbon footprint.
His Excellency emphasized the importance of the Farmers’ Forum in enhancing constructive cooperation between various stakeholders and the initiatives launched by the Ministry to support the agricultural sector. These include the initiative to enhance the “sustainability of national farms”, research into finding new mechanisms and partnerships, and linking major supply companies with national farms through cooperation with various stakeholders. This includes both the government and the private sector in the country, which contributes to increasing purchases of national farm products and improving the income of Emirati farms, in addition to expanding local production through guaranteed purchase agreements.
His Excellency continued: “The Ministry is striving hard to enhance food security and sustainability in the UAE and working to overcome the challenges farmers face in marketing their products. This forum facilitated communication between governmental and private sector entities in the UAE to buy 50% of their products from local sources by the end of 2023. Our goal is to raise this target to reach 70% by the end of 2025, and 100% by 2030.”
During the forum, the Ministry’s efforts to support the agricultural sector were reviewed, both legislatively and in terms of the initiatives that have been undertaken. The farmers were introduced to the initiative (Enhancing the Sustainability of National Farms), which aims to create a sustainable market for local agricultural and food products, in addition to discussing financial solutions, agricultural technology, and enhancing cooperation with the Emirates Development Bank. The forum also provided updates on initiatives to support farmers and market their products and ways to enhance modern sustainable farming systems for healthy, safe, and accessible food for all.
The forum also reviewed the role of “Manbat” in supporting farmers through direct contracts for marketing and selling agricultural products and developing the agricultural production sector through holding training workshops and qualifying small farms to transform into commercial farms. Additionally, an agrarian program was prepared to enhance the efficiency of local production.
Supporting the Sustainability of Agricultural Production:
During the forum, the Emirates Development Bank presented an overview of the financing programs offered to farmers to support the sustainability of agricultural production. This includes allocating a financial portfolio worth AED100 million to finance local farms, which includes financing capital expenses and new and existing projects to contribute to the development of agricultural work and the transition to agricultural technology. The bank also coordinates with farmers interested in securing financing within the programme offered by the Emirates Development Bank.
Marketing National Products:
“Manbat” presented a brief overview of its initiatives and the key activities and services it provides to farmers in the UAE to enhance the marketing of national agricultural products. An agreement was reached to prepare an “Agricultural Plan” that contributes to the sustainability of national farms and enhances their productivity, according to the requirements of the local market, before the 2023 planting season. The Ministry will supervise to ensure the quality and safety of agricultural products.
An open dialogue was also held during the forum with farmers on ways to enhance the marketing of local agricultural products. This was done to involve farmers in the development of the local agricultural production sector and support its sustainability. The discussion revolved around several topics related to challenges associated with pricing, product marketing, farm qualification, organic farming licensing, the cost of commercial licenses and labour, water desalination for irrigation, crop production plans, solar energy solutions, and support materials.
At the end of the forum, the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment affirmed its continued work to support the agricultural production sector, through pioneering action plans to overcome the challenges facing local agriculture, in cooperation with its partners towards the goal of enhancing national food security.