x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Abu Dhabi seeks to boost agricultural economy

The emirate is planning to develop more irrigation systems and build agricultural research centres to try to achieve long-term food security.

Abu Dhabi is planning to develop more irrigation systems and build agricultural research centres to try to increase the sector's contribution to the economy and achieve long-term food security.

The plan is contained in a report from the Department of Economic Development showing that the livestock and fisheries industry is contributing a greater share of overall economic output than in previous years.

Commodity prices have risen sharply this year, creating inflationary concerns across the region. Coffee futures have increased by almost 50 per cent this year. The price of corn has risen by more than 28 per cent, oats by almost 23 per cent and wheat by more than 22 per cent.

Private-equity companies have bought into farms in the region, while larger fertiliser producers have benefited from a rally in urea prices.

The report says low-income families spend 28.7 per cent of their income on food, against just 14.8 per cent for high-income families.

But farmers are struggling to maintain output because production costs have risen. Khaled Mubarak al Busaeed, a UAE national who grows animal feed on a farm in Al Ain, says his profits range between Dh2,000 (US$544) and Dh4,000 a month. "It's now more of a hobby," he said.

halsayegh@thenational.ae