Dubai: The Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE) has hosted the first meeting of the Farmers’ Council, presided over by Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri, Minister of Climate Change and Environment.
The meeting highlighted the government directions to promote sustainable modern farming systems across the UAE to increase the agricultural sector’s productivity and commercial value and enhance food security.
The Minister said: “Food security is a strategic priority of the UAE that we seek to achieve through strengthening our agricultural sector and mainstreaming advanced agricultural practices with the support of stakeholders concerned in the country.”
She added: “Establishing the Farmers’ Council will drive this priority, as it will highlight the challenges faced by the sector and the best approaches to overcoming them. Through its membership, representing all regions of the country, the Council aims to ensure that farmers’ voices are heard, and raise awareness about relevant government plans and ways to support them among the farming community.”
The minister applauded local farmers for the important role they play in developing the sector through their compliance with related laws and regulations and their shift to modern agriculture that reduces the sector’s impacts on the environment and climate.
The meeting agenda featured an overview of the Council’s mandates. These include promoting the adoption of state-of-the-art cultivation practices, developing an annual agricultural plan, identifying applicable agricultural systems, authorising applied agricultural research programmes to be executed at selected farms, organising capacity-building and experience-sharing activities for farmers, and approving annual agricultural production programmes and produce marketing plans.
Members outlined the Council’s work processes for identifying priority challenges and projects, developing action plans, and assigning tasks and timeframes. They also discussed the pledge signed by government entities at the UAE Annual Government Meeting on November 22 where they committed to securing 50 per cent of their food-related purchases from local farms by 2023 by boosting local farms’ production capacities and encouraging and increasing investment in food sectors to 100 per cent by 2030.
Moreover, the Council explored the finance solutions offered by Emirates Development Bank to modern agricultural SMEs and start-ups, and highlighted next steps in developing targeted extension services for farmers. In this context, MOCCAE will update farmers’ databases over the next few weeks.
Hamid Obaid Al Zaabi, Council member representing Ajman farmers, emphasised the importance of engaging farmers in government decisions and future plans for the agricultural sector.
Hamid Al Hamad, Council member representing Abu Dhabi farmers, said: “The Council is a platform that brings together decision makers and experts from the government and private sector to educate stakeholders about related policies and directions as well as the challenges facing the sector. Through enhancing the capabilities of our farmers, we strive to realise the vision of President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan of transforming the country into a global pioneer in the agricultural sector.”
In November, Minister Mariam issued the Ministerial Resolution No. 353 of 2022 establishing the Farmers’ Council. She is the Chair of the Council. Members from MOCCAE include the Assistant Undersecretary of the Food Diversity Sector, who is also the Vice Chair, the Assistant Undersecretary of the Support Services Sector, the Directors for the Central, Eastern, and Northern Region, and the Head of the Support and Follow-up Office. In addition, the Council comprises two farmers’ representatives each from the Central Region, the Eastern Region, the Northern Region, Abu Dhabi, and Dubai.