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Agricultural robotics centre planned for the UAE

farmoing robotics UAE Reuters/Rula Rouhana
The proposed research centre in Al Ain will feature a dedicated autonomous greenhouse equipped with various robotic platforms
  • University and Silal partnership
  • Research facility in Al Ain
  • ‘Crucial step’ for agtech progress

Khalifa University of Science and Technology and agri-food giant Silal plan to create a centre of excellence for farming robotics in the UAE.

The proposed research centre, to be located at Silal’s Innovation Oasis site in Al Ain, Abu Dhabi, will feature a dedicated autonomous greenhouse equipped with various robotic platforms, sensors and Internet of Things infrastructure. 

It will research crop monitoring using AI-driven robotic platforms in a bid to detect early-stage diseases and reduce the use of chemicals. 

It will also explore autonomous robotic systems in food production including new methods to handle soft fruit and vegetables.

Silal CEO Salmeen Al Ameri described the partnership as a “crucial step” to bridge research capabilities and agriculture industry requirements.

The UAE and wider GCC region has historically imported around 90 percent of its food requirements, constrained by arid soils, scarce water resources and searing temperatures. 

Abu Dhabi intends to use technology to boost local food production. In 2020, it launched an incentive programme for agtech innovators to come to the emirate to develop new farming techniques and advance research in the sector.

It signed partnerships with seven companies including US-based AeroFarms and Nanoracks, India’s FreshToHome, and local players Madar Farms and hydroponics start-up Pure Harvest.

Video: Why so much food is wasted in the UAE

Last year, Finnish tech startup iFarm announced it was swapping the countryside of Northern Europe for the Arabian desert to expand its urban farming business.

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