A couple of years ago, the UAE unveiled its National Strategy for Food Security. The plan’s primary aim is for the country’s population to have access to healthy food at affordable prices – and to hit top spot on the Global Food Security Index by 2051.
However, the coronavirus pandemic and its ongoing impact on economies and trade have seen the importance of food security become paramount – something needs to change. “I believe the current pandemic has provided us the opportunity to completely reimagine the global food system,” Tony Hunter, a global food futurist, tells GN Focus. “Countries should look to ensuring domestic manufacture of basic foodstuffs for their own populations.”
Ravindra Shrotriya, Founder and CEO, VeggiTech, says, “The long-term sustainable impact on any industry [comes] through research and innovation.” For his company, adds Shrotriya, this means bringing in the investment, talent and knowledge ecosystem to indigenously research, design and develop the latest in agro-technologies. “We do have to think about different inputs to get different outputs to make us food secure.”
One of the technologies touted to help the UAE achieve food security is hydroponics, which is used at Armela Farms to grow 5,000 heads of lettuce (in 19 varieties) and a tonne of kale (three kinds) every day. Yazan Abu Jaish, Managing Partner at Armela Farms, points out two major benefits of hydroponics: A severely reduced risk of pests and other insects, and sustainability.