To ensure the country’s food security, the UAE have taken several actions in recent years to further its resilience. After launching the Food Tech Valley business park, setting plans to build the largest indoor vertical farms in Abu Dhabi and near the Dubai Expo site, the country has taken extra steps by awarding two new USD 84 million projects to private companies in order to build and operate two new farms. The two projects are part of the Abu Dhabi Agriculture and Food Safety Authority’s efforts to expand agricultural projects and investments.
According to the Abu Dhabi Agriculture and Food Safety Authority (ADAFSA), two agreements have been awarded, the first (Valued at USD 71 million according to ME Construction News) being with Emirates Hydroponics Farms to build and operate a hydroponic farm for the production of vegetables, fruits, and mushrooms in controlled environments with a surface area of 325,000 sqm.
The second was signed with the Emirates International Agricultural Advanced Company for the construction of an Aquaponic farm costing about USD 13.6 million and with a surface area of 750,000 sqm.
The Quest To The Largest Indoor Vertical Farm
The UAE will build the world’s biggest vertical farm near the Expo 2020 site to bolster the country’s food production, a senior official said in February.
“It will be functioning very soon and it will produce many of the essential food items that we need such as tomatoes, leafy greens and so on,” Essa Abdul Rahman Al Hashem, Head of UAE’s Food and Water Security Office, said without divulging further details. Speaking at the Food, Agriculture and Livelihoods Business Forum at Expo 2020 on Monday, Hesham said the country is steadily heading toward self-sufficiency in food by betting big on technology and innovation.
“Our self—sufficiency targets are moving steadily and in an ambitious yet realistic manner,” said Hashem. In recent years, the UAE farmers have been growing 70 different varieties of vegetables, fruits and herbs like tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, mangoes, oranges, according to the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment. There are more than 35,000 farms in the UAE, and many use modern technologies like hydroponic farming and vertical farming.
The Agriculture Sector In Constant Growth In The UAE
Abu Dhabi’s agricultural production has achieved remarkable growth in terms of volume and value, with the total value of agricultural production reaching about AED13.7 billion in 2020, with an increase of 12 per cent compared to 2019, growing at a compound annual growth rate of 6.5 per cent for 2017-2020.
Statistics collected by the Abu Dhabi Agriculture and Food Safety Authority (ADAFSA) in collaboration with the Statistics Centre Abu Dhabi (SCAD), showed that the agricultural production increase resulted in improving the agricultural sector’s contribution to Abu Dhabi’s GDP to 1.1 per cent last year, compared to 0.8 per cent in previous years.
Investments In The Region’s Most Innovative Companies
The most recent funding round, Red Sea Farms, a sustainable AgTech Firm committed to solving one of today’s greatest challenges, has successfully banked a USD 18.5 million funding in what it calls a “Strategic Raise” as their technology performance surpasses expectations. Combining impact with innovation, Red Sea Farms promotes environmental and economic sustainability by meeting the nutritional needs of water-scarce populations. The approach is a world-leading blend of plant science, sustainable cooling, light and energy management and systems that use Artificial Intelligence.
One of the pioneers in vertical farming in the region includes Pure Harvest Farms, a leading sustainable technology-enabled agribusiness, announced that it had secured US $64.5 million in growth capital to accelerate the Company’s expansion and technology development efforts. This latest financing round was led by Korea’s leading private investment firm IMM Investment Corp., together with existing investors and management. The announcement was made on the sidelines of the Future Investment Initiative currently being held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.