Food security is a key issue that is given great attention in the United Arab Emirates. The country has developed strategic plans and practical programmes to ensure its food security, and has mobilised the community to support these plans in order to achieve food self-sufficiency and promote the concept of sustainable food.
Agriculture is one of the most important ways to ensure that the UAE has enough food to feed its people. The UAE has been supporting agriculture for 50 years, since the country was founded. This was started by the late founding father, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. Sheikh Zayed believed that agriculture was very important, and he made it a top priority.
This report by the Emirates News Agency (WAM) sheds light on home gardening in the UAE, as well as the government initiatives that are helping to promote it.
The efforts of the relevant authorities, both locally and federally, have not been limited to supporting agriculture through its extensive projects across the country. They have also included encouraging community initiatives such as home gardening, which are considered to be sustainable initiatives that accelerate the achievement of food self-sufficiency.
The cultivation of a home garden or the conversion of available spaces in buildings into small production units can help to promote the concept of sustainability, both economically, socially, and environmentally. It can also support the broader sustainability ecosystem in the community.
These community initiatives aimed at promoting home gardening meet the objectives of the “Impact” pillar of the “National Sustainability Campaign” that was recently launched in conjunction with preparations for the 28th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP28), which will be held from November 30 to December 12 this year in Dubai Expo.
The campaign aims to promote positive environmental behaviour and raise awareness of environmental sustainability issues, and to encourage community participation. The “Impact” pillar showcases the positive results and impact of UAE sustainability initiatives across different areas.
The UAE has established a supportive legal and regulatory framework for agriculture and created government agencies to promote sustainable agriculture and food security. These efforts were strengthened by the launch of the National Food Security Strategy 2051 and the establishment of the Emirates Council for Food Security, which aims to rapidly achieve food self-sufficiency, reduce the food gap, preserve soil, and optimize water use, especially groundwater.
The decision issued by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, in July 2018, on community agriculture, provides a regulatory framework for community and home gardening. It calls for the exploitation of residential areas, building roofs, and educational institutions to develop and expand agricultural activity and benefit from its effects to serve the community and educate it, while enhancing environmental benefits and increasing green spaces.
The decision focused on the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment’s role in promoting agriculture, including community farming, planting in educational institutions, homes, residential complexes, and government buildings, water conservation, seed provision, marketing, and regulation.
The UAE has embraced pioneering home gardening initiatives, incorporating advanced smart solutions to support community agricultural projects. A notable example is the “Bustani” exhibition hosted at the Sustainable Villa in Masdar City, which showcases over 15 innovative solutions focusing on food production, water management, and waste recycling. These solutions include chemical-free, precision-irrigated home vegetable cultivation and smart technology integration in poultry farming.
Furthermore, the Sharjah Research Technology and Innovation Park, in collaboration with global research institutions, is developing innovative methods for agricultural production and solar-powered water desalination as part of a holistic sustainability system.
The United Arab Emirates’ efforts to promote community agriculture have been praised internationally by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) during the participation of a delegation from the organisation in the second round of the “Grow Your Food” campaign organised by the Dubai Municipality, with the aim of encouraging families and schools in the UAE to grow vegetables and fruits at home that are compatible with the climate of the environment in the state.
FAO said that such innovative and stimulating initiatives encourage people to contribute to food provision through innovative ways and within the framework of environmental conservation and in accordance with the principles of sustainability.
The General Women’s Union launched the “My Self-Sufficient Farming” initiative, with the support and patronage of H.H. Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, “Mother of the Nation”, Chairwoman of the General Women’s Union (GWU), President of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, and Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation (FDF), aimed to help increase green spaces at people’s homes, and instils agricultural values among women and their families, therefore, supporting the implementation of food security strategies by building women’s capacities and equipping them with innovative agricultural skills.
The Abu Dhabi Agriculture and Food Safety Authority issued a guide to community gardening, which includes comprehensive instructions for growing fruit trees and vegetables in home gardens, educational institutions, and on building roofs. It covers everything from choosing the right location to harvesting and pest control.
The Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority also distributed a variety of approved and successful fruit varieties from the production of the Authority’s agricultural research stations to a number of participants in the home garden competition in cooperation with the Abu Dhabi City Municipality, with the aim of encouraging the adoption of these varieties and promoting the concept of productive home gardens, as part of the Authority’s strategy aimed at achieving food security and preserving the sustainability of agriculture.
Source: WAM ( Muhammad Aamir & Amjad Saleh )