MoCCAE to adopt drone-enabled technology to collect agricultural intelligence

The Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, MoCCAE, is introducing a new project to survey and map agricultural areas using unmanned aerial vehicles or drones. MoCCAE invited several professional drone companies in the UAE to carry out the pilot phase of the project.

Fish Farm undertakes hatchery project in Umm Al Quwain

A fish hatchery will be set up in Umm Al Quwain that will help build artificial habitats over the next three years that will provide a safe environment for breeding fish.

The Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE) and Fish Farm LLC recently signed a memorandum of understanding that authorises Fish Farm to operate a fish hatchery at the ministry’s Marine Environment Research Centre in Umm Al Quwain.

UAE and Australia strengthen bilateral ties in agriculture, environment protection

A UAE delegation, led by Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al-Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, on Tuesday concluded an official visit to Australia to promote collaboration on various environmental fronts.

During the three-day visit, the delegates attended bilateral meetings with top Australian officials and toured multiple environmental and agricultural facilities in the country.

Saudi Arabia Unveils Its $200 Million Organic Farming Action Plan

The Saudi Ministry of Environment, Water, and Agriculture unveiled its organic farming action plan, which was approved by the Cabinet, and has allocated SR750 million ($200 million) to support it.

The plan will be one of the most important means of supporting organic production in the Kingdom. This nation-wide move towards building institutional capacity, part of its ambitious plan to expand Saudi Arabia’s shift toward organic agriculture. 

Turkey funds $800m agricultural project in Sudan

The Sudanese Minister of Agriculture and Governor of Sennar State, Azhari Khalafallah, said the Turkish government will finance an $800 million developmental project in partnership with Sudan in Duba area. “The 35-year contract was signed by the Council of Ministers and the National Council,” the official said in remarks reported by Sudanese media.

UAE, China to build wholesale market for agricultural products

China and the UAE will look to strengthen cooperation in modern agriculture, such as hydroponics and organic agriculture, apply modern agricultural techniques, especially in irrigation and in using treated water for agriculture

The UAE and China signed two memorandums of understanding to strengthen agricultural cooperation and jointly build a wholesale market for agricultural, livestock and fishery products.

Searching for biotech solutions to problems plaguing livestock in Africa

In Africa, scientific research involving biotechnology innovations in agriculture has largely focused on finding ways to produce better crops. But, increasingly, researchers in animal sciences are exploring the potential of these new technologies in breeding and disease resistance.

Convert energy stored in agricultural waste to useful forms of energy

The term ‘crop residues’ covers the whole range of biomass produced as by-products from growing and processing crops. Crop residues encompasses all agricultural wastes such as bagasse, straw, stem, stalk, leaves, husk, shell, peel, pulp, stubble, etc. Wheat and barley are the major staple crops grown in the Middle East region. In addition, significant quantities of rice, maize, lentils, chickpeas, vegetables and fruits are produced throughout the region, mainly in Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Jordan.

Date palm is one of the principal agricultural products in the arid and semi-arid region of the world, especially Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. The Arab world has more than 84 million date palm trees with the majority in Egypt, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia and United Arab Emirates. Date palm trees produce huge amount of agricultural wastes in the form of dry leaves, stems, pits, seeds etc. A typical date tree can generate as much as 20 kilograms of dry leaves per annum while date pits account for almost 10 percent of date fruits. Some studies have reported that Saudi Arabia alone generates more than 200,000 tons of date palm biomass each year.

UAE fund, Amerra and Andromeda Group to acquire two Greek aquaculture firms

Investment fund Mubadala Investment Company, from Abu Dhabi, together with AMERRA Capital Management LLC (the current owners of Andromeda Group) will participate as shareholders in the acquisition of majority stakes in two European sea bass and sea bream farming companies: Nireus SA and Selonda SA.

The transaction, which is subject to merger control approvals and other customary conditions, has the aim of creating a global leading aquaculture firm.

Shaikh Zayed has been described as “the man who tamed the desert”.

His pledge to transform the country into a “green haven” resulted in increased cultivable land by manyfold during his lifetime, a senior official told Gulf News.

“When Shaikh Zayed became president in 1971, the UAE had only 2,530 hectares (6,250 acres) of cultivated land. He allotted funds for vast reclamation projects to increase the agricultural and forested areas. By the early 1990s, the area of cultivated land increased to 470,000 hectares (1,616,370 acres),” said Dr Thani Ahmad Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment.

Despite the popular belief that agriculture was not suitable for the UAE due to its very hot climate, tough desert and scarce water resources, Shaikh Zayed was persistent and charted a clear path towards a greener UAE. “Fifty years ago, no one could believe that it was even possible to transform a barren land into the land of lush greenery we see today. For Shaikh Zayed’s vision, the sky was the limit,” he said.

Belarus, UAE agree on veterinary certificates for meat, dairy products 

Belarus and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have agreed on veterinary certificates for milk and dairy products, meat and meat products, as well as honey and a broad assortment of ready-made food products, Aleksei Bogdanov, Head of the Central Office for Foreign Economic Activities of the Belarusian Agriculture and Food Ministry, told BelTA.

Blockchain is coming to Agriculture

Over the past year, blockchain has become a buzzword in media coverage, industry publications, and press releases for new start-ups. Of course, Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have received much of the spotlight. However, hundreds of articles proclaim the benefits of using blockchain technology in industries including agriculture. The real question: Can blockchain outlive the hype and deliver real value to growers?

In agriculture, blockchain promises a single source of truth about the state of your farm, inventory, and contracts. Many farmers today utilize a combination of software, apps, spreadsheets, pen and paper, and memory to record their data. That effort is then multiplied when farm service providers require information and data in order to deliver on the service they were hired to perform. By providing a single source of data for a farm, blockchain minimizes the strain of record-keeping and maintaining multiple record systems. Blockchain can ultimately save time and energy in the agriculture value chain.

Why the UAE's first vertical farm could be a regional gamechanger

Badia Farm - the word means ‘oasis’ in Arabic - grows greens like radish, kale, mustard, basil and arugula in a controlled, indoors environment using hydroponic technology and LED lights.

“As a region that has struggled to grow crops due to largely hostile desert landscapes, our farm offers a viable solution to farming that produces harvests 365 days of the year,” he said.

Ghana drafts new aquatic animal health policy

Ghana's ministry of fisheries and aquaculture development is planning a new aquatic animal health policy to help ensure safe fish farming in the country, reports Ghana Web. One of the proposed policy ideas includes prosecuting operators in the industry who engage in illegal activities such as importing and growing unapproved fish species.

Today, more people are living healthy, productive lives than ever before. This good news may come as a surprise, but there is plenty of evidence for it. Since the early 1990s, global child mortality has been cut in half. There have been massive reductions in cases of tuberculosis, malaria, and HIV/AIDS. The incidence of polio has decreased by 99 percent, bringing the world to the verge of eradicating a major infectious disease, a feat humanity has accomplished only once before, with smallpox. The proportion of the world’s population in extreme poverty, defined by the World Bank as living on less than $1.90 per day, has fallen from 35 percent to about 11 percent.

Morocco Poised For Bumper Wheat Harvest

Morocco is poised to have a bountiful wheat harvest in 2018, and that may mean another slow year for the North African country’s top suppliers from Russia to France and Ukraine.

The crop will be 7.09 million metric tons this year, the Agriculture Ministry said in a document distributed last week. That’s after the harvest more than doubled in 2017-18 and imports dropped 23 percent, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates. The import duty on the grain will be increased in May, Agriculture Minister Aziz Akhannouch said on the sidelines of a conference in Meknes, Morocco. 

Gene Editing for Good - How CRISPR Could Transform Global Development

Today, more people are living healthy, productive lives than ever before. This good news may come as a surprise, but there is plenty of evidence for it. Since the early 1990s, global child mortality has been cut in half. There have been massive reductions in cases of tuberculosis, malaria, and HIV/AIDS. The incidence of polio has decreased by 99 percent, bringing the world to the verge of eradicating a major infectious disease, a feat humanity has accomplished only once before, with smallpox. The proportion of the world’s population in extreme poverty, defined by the World Bank as living on less than $1.90 per day, has fallen from 35 percent to about 11 percent.

Source: Bill Gates, For Foreign Affairs Magazine

The UAE's billion dollar food problem

Annual rainfall in the UAE is 120mm, and coupled with having only 10% of available as arable has led the UAE to import over 80% (33.7mn tonnes) of its food which has created a food security problem. The UAE’s Ministry of Climate Change and Environment has put a priority on increasing the use of hydroponic technology among farmers, which relies on nutrient-rich water to grow plants with the use of little or no soil. The method saves up to 70% of water, while allowing for a longer growing season and avoiding harmful chemicals.The country’s dependence on food imports leaves it vulnerable to the performance of international food markets. It is for this reason that he UAE and other Gulf countries have been purchasing land for food cultivation abroad, most notably in Africa and Pakistan. Whilst farming overseas may provide a reasonably stable source of food, there are still more costs incurred with transport than if the food were homegrown.  

Source: British Centre for Business

Agriculture is the key to a prosperous Africa

Africa spends $40bn annually importing food, a cost expected to almost triple to $1110bn by 2025, and with 70% of the African population depending on agriculture for their livelihood, more attention must be given to this sector. Yields have been proven to double by giving farmers access to adapted seeds and fertilisers, and ensuring availability of information on proper farming practices.

Per the International Food Policy Research Institute, countries such as Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda and others that are making big investments in agriculture, productivity on existing farmlands has risen by up to 6 per cent a year, spurring an average annual GDP increase of more than 4 per cent.

A scheme proposed by Agnes Kalibata, president of Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) is to take the money spent on importing food and invest in farming, creating jobs for 11mn young people each year, improving systems, infrastructure, policies and institutions that support agriculture. 

The most recent example is from Southeast Asia, where governments invested 15 to 20 per cent of their national budgets in agriculture for 10 to 15 years ushered in rapid economic growth.

Source: Financial Times

Egyptian President, Sisi announces new animal husbandry farms

 President Sisi of Egypt has confirmed that new animal husbandry farms will be opened in the next few weeks capable of housing 200,000 cattle. They will be equipped with the latest equipment according to international standards and providing many job opportunities for Egyptians. Once the farms are open the price per ton of meat will be $2,750.

President Sisi also inaugurated the largest fish farm in the Middle East, in Kafr al-Sheikh expected to cover 70% of Egypt's domestic need of fish.

Source: Gulf Business

African Development Bank announce new agricultural transformation strategy

The African Development Bank (AfDB) has developed a new initiative called the Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) initiative to tackle the need of scaling up proven technologies across Africa. 25 African countries have already confirmed their participation in supporting the AdDB's current Feed Africa Strategy which aims to elimate the current massive importation of food and transform its economies by targeting agriculture as a major source of economic diversification and wealth, as well as a powerful engine for job creation.

The initiative will implement 655 carefully considered actions that should result in almost 513 million tons of additional food production and lift nearly 250 million Africans out of poverty by 2025, with rice, cassava, pearl millet, sorghum, groundnut, cowpea, livestock, maize, soya bean, yam, cocoa, coffee, cashew, oil palm, horticulture, beans, wheat and fish being the main benefited commodities. 

Source: Relief Web

How Jenaan is contributing to UAE food security

Jenaan, is an agricultural investment company based in Abu Dhabi, whose goal is to contribute to food security for the UAE through projects and services, such as supplying hay and forage for husbandry farmers. 

Other projects undertaken include: importing beef into Saudi Arabia to cover the shortage as well as importing/supplying animal feed for dairy companies and consumers as an alternative on the government’s restriction on local forage production. 

Source: Jenaan Investment LLC

Op Ed: The growing importance of UAE food security

Agthia’s CEO, Tariq Al Wahedi, recently published an Op Ed tackling the issue of food security across the UAE.

About 80% of the UAE’s food supply comes from lands more amenable to food production, which makes it essential for the UAE to manage risks in these source countries that could impact future food supplies. A solution to this dependence is to produce food locally.

Government subsidies for poultry feed used on local commercial farms encourage local production, along with support for dairy farms ensure a sufficient supply. Agthia themselves have stepped up to fill a gap by being a distributor for smaller chicken producers who were struggling to compete following the withdrawal of animal feed subsidies by using Agthia’s own brand of animal feed produced in the UAE.

There are several other sustainable options, including; better education, incentivises for international producers to open in the UAE and protecting local producers and industries through laws, such as banning the sales of imports for lower than fair market value. Agthia’s Op Ed explores these themes in greater detail here.

Source: The National