What is Dubai’s Food Security Program and will it actually work?

Agriculture is a huge source of food for people living in cities all the way to remote villages and deserts, accounting for one of the single largest sources of food supplies across the world. In order to ensure that this supply is reaching the entire population, it is important to implement and promote food security for all. Therefore in 2018, the UAE launched the National Food Security Strategy 2051, otherwise known as the Food Security Program, which aims to achieve zero hunger by ensuring accessibility to safe and nutritious food all year round.

The strategy focuses on:

  1. Making the UAE the worlds best in the Global Food Security Index by 2051
  2. Develop a comprehensive national system that enables sustainable food production through modern technology
  3. Instead of outsourcing, enhancing local production further

The UAE has always relied heavily on imported food, however to become more self-sufficient, the UAE has stepped up through effective domestic food production. It has increased local agricultural practices and reduced reliance on other imports. As traditional agriculture does not yield enough results, this strategy aims specifically to implement resilient agricultural practices that will help increase productivity and production.

The use of smart farming

Creating a food source that will be sustainable in the future requires work, which is why Dubai in particular is using emerging technologies within the agricultural sector to reboot the Emirate’s farming sector. “Smart farming is the way forward to achieving food security,” says Mariam Al Mheiri, the UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment and Minister of State for Food Security. These practices include the use of aquaponics hydroponics and vertical farming solutions.

Using these cutting edge areas of ‘agritech’ like nanotechnologies, biotechnologies, robotics and AI will help to speed up the process of ensuring food security, helping the economy and population. This is aided by the use of drones and sensors that will help figure out what every acre of land used to wield crops needs and what it does not. Using technology like this will reduce the amount of wasted energy and resources, therefore reducing inputs and carbon footprint.

As there are a number of challenges the UAE needs to deal with when growing crops in a largely sterile landscape, there are numerous methods of smart agriculture that the UAE are undertaking, including alternative crop cultivation.

Using alternative crop cultivation

Salicornia and other halophytes have great potential as alternative crops for food production in semi-arid and arid regions such as the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) where farming faces constraints ranging from soil and water salinity to water scarcity,” says Dr Tarifa Alzaabi, Acting Director General of ICBA.

Now data from the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment now shows that the UAE has over 177 farms that use modern agricultural methods, technologies and crops. With the immense effort and research that has gone into using different methods, it has meant that the country is now moving in the direction of becoming the global leader in commercial modern agriculture, helping them to reach their goal of zero-hunger.

The UAE are making leaps and bounds with their Food Security Program. Not only ensuring that their population has food security, they are also using alternative, more green methods to create a large number of their crops, leading towards a net zero world and zero hunger world at the same time.