x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Local tomatoes will give that little taste of Italy

The Farmer's Services Centre (FSC), which is modernising Abu Dhabi's farms, has joined forces with UAE University to produce sun-dried tomatoes from surplus crops.

ABU DHABI // The UAE will get its own taste of Tuscany next year when locally grown sun-dried tomatoes hit supermarket shelves.

The Farmer's Services Centre (FSC), which is modernising Abu Dhabi's farms, has joined forces with UAE University to produce sun-dried tomatoes from surplus crops.

The FSC will provide financing and field expertise, while the university will supply staff, equipment and the know-how to dry tomatoes.

Last month, the FSC launched a marketing arm that sells fresh produce to local supermarkets and stores. It sources a variety of vegetables and fruits - as much as 22 tonnes a day - from farms in Al Gharbia. Under that programme, however, many tomatoes have been going to waste, and some crops of the fruit were deemed too inferior to be sold.

In the venture with UAE University, those tomatoes will be dried in a slow, energy-intensive process and be transformed into a product that is a classic appetiser and a staple ingredient in many dishes.

Khalifa Ahmed al Ali, managing director of the FSC, said the project will help the emirate develop "a sustainable, efficient, market-driven agricultural sector" while also bringing farmers a "new, potentially lucrative source of income".

mdetrie@thenational.ae