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UAE’s farming task force clinches $136m supply deal

UAE farming project Reuters
UAE farming projects are allowing growth and harvesting of crops even in desert areas
  • Deal struck with Abu Dhabi National Hotels Company JV and Manbat
  • Farmers to supply $136m of products over five years
  • UAE set up National Farm Sustainability Initiative Task Force in June

Farms in the UAE have provisionally agreed to supply food and agricultural products totalling AED500 million ($136 million) over five years to some of the country’s biggest public sector institutions. 

The deal is the first to be struck by the National Farm Sustainability Initiative (NFSI) task force, a government group set up by the UAE’s Ministry of Climate Change and Environment in June. 

Under a statement of intent by all parties, UAE farms will supply the products to a consortium of businesses.

These include ADNH Compass Group, which represents the largest food catering services companies in the UAE and Manbat, owned by Sharjah property developer Arada. 

Manbat was set up to facilitate stronger ties between Emirati farmers and local consumers and businesses.

End clients include public sector institutions such as various government ministries, Dubai Police General Command, Abu Dhabi Police, the Abu Dhabi Agriculture and Food Safety Authority, Emirates Health Services Corporation and Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc).

The deal aims to help participating entities obtain 50 percent of their total food purchases from local sources by the end of 2023, 70 percent by the end of 2025, and 100 percent by 2030. 

UAE climate change minister Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri said it was part of ongoing work by the ministry to connect major companies with national farms. 

As well as to increase purchases of national farm products, the goal is to expand local production and raise the country’s self-sufficiency for selected food items, improving the income of Emirati farmers without affecting food trade.

The UAE’s agricultural industry wants to improve food security and minimise the carbon footprint attached to heavy reliance on food imports. 

“During the Year of Sustainability and as the UAE approaches hosting the Cop28 conference, the efforts of the task force represent a pioneering model to enhance food security,” Almheiri said. 

She added that it was empowering the national food production sector to ensure food sustainability “by working to develop sustainable local production enabled by technology across the entire value chain, and dedicating smart technologies in food production”.

Arada’s vice-chairman Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed bin Talal added: “This agreement between Manbat and ADNH Compass Group is a major step on the road to future food security for some of the UAE’s largest and most prominent public entities.”