UN praise for UAE’s positive steps towards food independence
ABU DHABI // A United Nations food expert has said the UAE has made great strides towards making sure it has food independence.
Speaking at an event to mark World Food Day, Ad Spijker, subregional office coordinator for the Food & Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the UN, said that it had reached many of the Millennium Development Goals set by the UN in 2000 to improve the lives of the people of the world.
“The UAE has cut the extreme poverty rates by half as well as reducing the proportion of hungry people and levels of undernourishment,” he said.
The UAE was also playing its part in strengthening global food security “as a result of the excellent infrastructure and transmission lines that link the state with most countries of the world”, he said.
The event, at Excalibur Farm in Al Shahama, was also to launch the International Year of Family Farming (IYFF) in the UAE.
The FAO has teamed up with the Ministry of Environment and Water to raise awareness of and promote family farms and organic produce. Farmers, scientists, agriculture experts and students participated in the launch.
Saif Al Shara, assistant undersecretary of agricultural affairs and animal sector at the ministry, said that family farms – those that are two hectares or less – play a crucial role in meeting the UAE’s food needs.
But he said extra efforts needed to be made to ensure family-owned farms matched the productivity of commercial farms.
Saif Al Hamiri, the director of Excalibur Farm, also talked about the best practices and standards for family farms and how to avoid wastage of natural resources, particularly water.
The ceremony ended with a tour around the farm in which participants learnt about a variety of aspects of farming, including vegetable planting projects, irrigation systems, the collection of waste materials for organic fertilisers and recycling.
The Ministry has launched several initiatives to boost farming and preserve and develop the country’s agricultural industry.
These include Nakheelna, which aims to strengthen efforts to combat agricultural pests, particularly those that infect date palms.
According to the FAO, the 2014 International Year of Family Farming aims to raise the profile of family farms in the drive to eradicate hunger and poverty, improve food security and livelihoods, and protect the environment.
Updated: October 16, 2014 04:00 AM