The UAE faces severe environmental challenges such as water and rain scarcity, climate change and global warming, scarcity of arable land, in addition to the increase in population that has prompted the import of about 90% of UAE’s total food from abroad. Nevertheless, in 2019 the UAE made a leap in the Global Food Security Index (GFSI) issued by the Economist Intelligence Unit. The Economist reported that the UAE had advanced ten places since 2018, to reach 21st in the world. The index is based on three core issues related to food security: affordability, availability and quality.
This progress exemplifies the active role of the UAE in transforming into a global hub for innovation-based food security. It also represents the continuous pursuit of the goals of the National Food Security Strategy expressed in the provision of healthy, safe, and nutritious food at affordable prices at all times and conditions, for all members of society.
The National Food Security Strategy
Strengthening major food supply chains to provide food products to all members of society is a top priority for the UAE. Therefore, in 2018, the UAE issued the National Food Security Strategy. The strategy is based on innovation and aims to ensure food security in all circumstances. The strategic directions are based on five main pillars:
- Facilitate global agri-business trade and diversify international food sources
- Technology-enabled food production
- Reduce food loss and waste
- Food safety and improving nutrition systems
- Food risks and crises management
- Enabling sustainable food production and supply through the adaptation of modern technology and research and development in food security
- Developing international and local partnerships and engaging the community to change behaviours related to food security
- Creating a national food database and building the capacities of individuals specialized in food security tasks
- Building a useful governance model and activating legislation and policies to improve nutrition and reduce food loss and waste
Food security is a top priority in the UAE. The UAE has an integrated system for food security, thanks to the joint efforts of the various federal and local government agencies and partners in the private sector and society. The UAE works to expand the network of international cooperation and exchange of experiences. Share knowledge about the latest practices and strengthen channels of communication and dialogue with decision-makers, academics, and heads of research centres to transfer food technology to the UAE.
At the beginning of Covid-19, Federal Law No. 3 of 2020 Regarding the Regulation of the Strategic Stock of Food Commodities was approved. The law enhances food security in the UAE and aims to organize food supplies in the event of crises, emergencies, and disasters. It is an important step in monitoring the main food commodities in the country and ensuring the availability of sufficient stocks of goods to be used when necessary.
The Food Security Office has launched several initiatives to ensure the participation of all groups, raise awareness about food, and transform food culture into a community approach. Among these initiatives are The Ag-Tech Accelerators Program, Food Water Energy Nexus Course, The FoodTech Challenge, UAE Aquaculture Pulse 2020.
Future aspirations and plans
Within the framework of achieving the UAE Centennial 2071, the long-term, full-vision plan that extends for 5 decades after 2021, the Food Security Office is working to achieve social and economic milestones, including national priorities as part of the food security agenda. It aspires to place the UAE among the top 10 countries in the global food security index by 2021. The food security strategy is expected to create about 16,000 new jobs, and have a AED 22 billion monetary Impact . The UAE aspires to be at the top of the index (first place) by 2051 and under the vision of a “World-leading hub in innovation-driven food security“. These achievements will transform the UAE into a leading and inspiring global model in the field of food security.