Industry insiders meeting in Abu Dhabi for the fourth annual SIAL Middle East trade event for the food, drink and hospitality industries, think the future for the UAE food industry is bright if policymakers use more sustainable strategies. Dependent on 80 percent of their food from imports, the UAE is seeking solutions to this challenge in case of any blockage in imports, which would cause a food shortage.
The UAE’s food imports totaled $7.7 billion (Dh28.28 billion) in 2012, and the number is expected to reach $9 billion for 2013, but the increase is due to the rising prices of food commodities rather than a rise in volume. However, Kimberley Chance, Food Security Advisor at the Food Security Centre Abu Dhabi, said the UAE’s biggest challenge is fresh water.
“The Mena [Middle East and North Africa] region is challenged with food supply/demand imbalance," said Chance. “Some research outcomes are providing a degree of optimism that we can meet this challenge and we’re hopeful we’ll see new developments that can begin to reduce the supply/demand imbalance.”
Brian Barriskill, Supply Chain Director at Al Dahra Agricultural Company, added that the country’s biggest challenge was finding a balance between agricultural practices that are both affordable and sustainable. Barriskill suggested investments in new farming technologies, such as water-saving techniques, could eventually reduce the quantity of imports without having to raise the prices of products.
According to this article from GulfNews.com, the UAE is even considering investing in land in other countries, particularly eastern Africa, in order to use it to grow crops. To read more, click HERE.