x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Natural healing

As the brisk sale of fresh fruits and vegetables makes clear, people have a preference for organic produce free from chemicals and pesticides. Now it seems that livestock has similar taste.

The last few years have seen the welcome introduction of farmers markets in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Ever since Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, pledged his support for such enterprises, stalls selling fruit and vegetables from all over the emirates have made their way into the most urbanised of areas.

Their popularity is proof of many people's preference for organic produce over agriculture that relies on chemicals and pesticides. Now it seems that livestock is heading the same way. As we report today, locally bred chicken could soon need less foreign additives after research found that date pits introduced into chicken feed acts as a natural antibiotic, potentially replacing other additives.

"People are very worried about how many antibiotics we get from consuming animal feeds," said Ahmed Soliman Hussein, a professor of poultry nutrition at the department of arid-land agriculture at UAE University.

Using the locally produced date pits will save the poultry industry thousands of dirhams, not to mention reduce the carbon emissions associated with the import of corn feed.

With production of more than 50,000 tonnes of dates a year, the UAE could be a major contributor to an industry that is already phasing out the use of antibiotics in livestock feed. Everyone's health stands to benefit.