Food security: Top priority

Shady Elborno - Head of Macro Strategy
Published Date: 16 September 2020

 

The UAE’s food security agenda has taken on greater importance following the start of the COVID-19 crisis, given the pandemic’s impact on global food supply chains. The pandemic was the low probability, high impact event that tested the region’s food security emergency response systems. As lockdown restrictions ease, and the world still struggles to achieve a clean exit from the pandemic, an important lesson for the region is to reduce dependencies in the long run. In the UAE,  the pandemic put into work the Emirates Council for Food Security, a federal entity, given responsibility of ensuring year-round food supply for the nation, especially in the case of a high impact low probability event, such as COVID-19. The council through its National Food Security Strategy played important role in boosting the food security standing of the UAE, with a 10 place jump to the 21st position in one year in the Global Food Security Index in 2019.

Technology will be a key factor in reducing long term dependencies on food importation.  With traditional farming is a very big challenge, a variety of agritech solutions are opening up farming opportunities that only a few decades ago seemed impossible. We are now able to grow a wider variety of greens and produce, develop crops that adapt to this environment, and do all that in a very sustainable manner. The UAE has been actively exploring new farming technologies with investments in high-tech farming methods such as hydroponics, aeroponics or aquaponics over the last few years. Those investments are starting to bear fruit, and the UAE is firmly placed to capitalize on technology to secure its independence in the long run, aiming to be the world’s most food secure country by 2051.

This paper looks at how the food security agenda in the UAE is evolving in the context of the coronavirus pandemic.  So far the policy response has been proactive and a number of new investments have recently been announced. This is likely just the beginning, with significantly more coming in the way of new technologies to grow a wide variety of foods.

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