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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 19 July 2018

Stronger regional ties could ensure food security, says minister

Small and medium size enterprises can help to counter scarcity by increasing food production

Mariam bint Mohammed Al Mehairi, Minister of State for Food Security. Victor Besa / The National
Mariam bint Mohammed Al Mehairi, Minister of State for Food Security. Victor Besa / The National

Stronger regional ties in agriculture and production are being urged to ensure food security in the UAE.

Mariam bint Mohammed Al Mehairi, Minister of State for Food Security, said its future in the Middle East and North Africa depended on strengthening economic and trade co-operation.

“With similarities in the climatic conditions as well as in the opportunities and challenges faced by the sector in Mena, it is important to have a higher level of co-operation to benefit from the experiences of the various nations and overcome challenges,” Ms Al Mehairi said.

The minister recently visited Egypt, which is working to strengthen its economic cooperation with the UAE, especially in food security.

She believes small and medium enterprises can play an important role in increasing the level of food being produced, and is interested in strengthening partnerships between organisations in the UAE and Egypt.

She also called for deepening partnerships between the private sectors of both countries.

During her recent visit to Egypt, Ms Al Mehairi toured key food security facilities and met Egyptian officials to discuss ways in which the two countries can co-operate.

Last week, The National reported that vertical farming, the practice of growing produce in vertically stacked layers, could prove a solution to providing food to parched nations in the Middle East.

In 2016, Dr Thani Al Zeyoudi, the Minister of Climate Change and Environment, said environmentally sustainable farming would be integral to tackling a 70 per cent increase in demand for food by 2050.

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A report last year said countries in the Middle East are among those most at risk of severe threats to food security caused by maritime choke points around the world. Climate change, conflict and political decisions to close or restrict waterways were delaying or stopping food shipments to countries dependent on imports, a study by UK-based think tank Chatham House warned in 2017.

GCC states are exposed to potential food security risks caused by maritime choke points. Kuwait imports 98 per cent of its cereals, with 95 per cent of its maize, wheat and soybean imports passing through at least one choke point.

The UAE imports 95 per cent of its cereals, with 94 per cent of these imports going through a choke point.