A National Governance System and "Aquaculture Basket" to Boost Food Security

Source: UAE Ministry of Cabinet Affairs and the Future

Achieving long-term food security and self- sufficiency are top strategic priorities for food security in the future. This was highlighted during the Second UAE Government Annual Meetings, which witnessed the launch of “The Food Valley Platform”, “The Aquaculture Pulse: A Guide to Grow the Aquaculture Sector”, “The Aquaculture Basket” aiming at fostering collaboration between food institutions in the UAE, as well as the “National Governance Structure for Food Security” which includes setting up an advisory board of different groups of the society.

Her Excellency Maryam bint Mohammed Saeed Al Mehairi, Minister of State for Food Security, stated that the UAE Government Annual Meetings represent a unique model of collaboration across federal and local entities, an opportunity to review the progress of the government, and an ideal platform to reinforce joint action between government entities. Her Excellency also noted that the Annual Meetings is a tool for measuring the progress of different working groups towards achieving the goals of the UAE Vision 2021 and the UAE Centennial 2071.

Her Excellency added: “Food Security sector has achieved significant progress through adopting a set of national initiatives aiming to promote scientific research, develop optimal solutions for the relevant challenges, and design policies that help promoting the future of food security in the UAE.

”The launch of the four initiatives followed the meeting of the Food Security Working Group, and they aim to ensure integration of roles and promote research and development related to food security, in a way that achieves sustainable solutions.

The “Food Valley platform” aims at furnishing the necessary basic information related to food security to the parties interested in research and development to enable them collect the data they need. The platform encompasses a number of areas, including funding resources, research agenda, patent registration mechanisms, as well as awareness-raising material for the private sector on the need to register these patents, along with a list of the most important investors and relevant global research.

Through the “Aquaculture Pulse: A Guide to Grow the Aquaculture Sector”, the UAE government will provide an overview of the consumption patterns of local and global markets, and the product specifications in terms of quality and size. The guide is a strategic document designed to attract investors. It provides an overview of the most important ways to achieve success in the aquaculture sector, highlights the most important competitive advantages of the country and the local production in terms of quality and cost, and aims at promoting sustainable farming systems, which would in turn reduce the pressure on the country’s aquaculture stocks.

Furthermore, the government discussed the development of a "Aquaculture Basket", an integrated work program to acquaint the society with the importance of supporting sustainable production systems and educate, community members about the benefits and quality of aquaculture products. It also aims to promote these products and facilitate their provision to customers, by enhancing cooperation with cooperative associations and vendors to allocate special markets for local aquaculture products.

It further discussed a motion to establish a Future Food Security Advisory Council, which would include representatives from the various segments of society and aims to engage stakeholders in the development of future food security policies.

These initiatives support the efforts of the UAE Government to develop an integrated food security strategy. The projected food demand is expected to increase by 2030, which requires exerting greater efforts in research and development in this area. This includes aquaculture projects, genomics and genetic engineering, closed farming systems, as well as harnessing artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) in the agricultural industry.