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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 October 2018

High demand for locally-produced fruit and vegetables, UAE supermarkets say

Zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes and eggplants are among the vegetables becoming more prevalent among growers in the UAE

A shopper walks through the fresh produce section of Spinneys' Karama shop in Dubai. Christopher Pike / The National Reporter
A shopper walks through the fresh produce section of Spinneys' Karama shop in Dubai. Christopher Pike / The National Reporter

Fruit and vegetables may be prohibitively expensive to grow for some UAE farmers, but retailers say there is a significant market for the produce.

Some have even launched special initiatives to support it, such as Spinneys UAE Farmers’ Club.

Launched in late 2015, the club aims to support local growers, improve the freshness of its products and help to develop better sustainable farming production standards.

Only farmers or growers who meet Spinneys’ guidelines for quality and sustainability are invited to join the club, the supermarket says.

Organic producers must be accredited by at least one awarding body to qualify, in addition to the UAE’s Emirates Authority for Standardisation and Metrology.

The club has eight growers and producers including Al Rawafed Agriculture Organic Farm, which is one of the is one of the largest organic producers in the UAE, Elite Agro, Dar Al Fateh and Integrated Green Resources UAE.

Spinneys works with the growers to run special promotions on a regular basis and increased the frequency during Ramadan as part of a campaign urging shoppers to buy local, which included special promotions on locally grown produce.

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Read more:

High costs force Fujairah farmers to stop growing fruit and vegetables

Local organic produce is becoming more affordable and available, thanks to government scheme

FNC discusses increased protection for UAE farmers from cheaper imports

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“We are committed where it is practical and possible to source products from the UAE,” said Matt Frost, chief executive of Spinneys.

“Promoting local brands is something that we have been doing on an ongoing basis, as much as we possibly can. This is very much part and parcel of our commitment.”

Last year, the government launched a programme to make organic produce more readily available in supermarkets across the country, providing farming equipment including tools for organic and hydroponic farming at half price.

The assistance has helped some producers to market their produce at a price that is equal or lower than imported fruit and vegetables, such as tomatoes, cucumbers and eggplant.

Other initiatives designed to increase the amount of locally produced produce include the I’mperfect campaign, which includes visually imperfect fruit and vegetables often rejected supermarkets over concerns that shoppers will not buy them.

The number of farms in the UAE has increased exponentially. Official statistics show they rose from 4,000 in 1971 to 35,704 in 2011. Fifty-four farms are organic.

Zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes and eggplants are among the vegetables becoming more prevalent among growers in the UAE.

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