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High-tech greenhouse turns up heat on UAE sustainability

UAE greenhouse project targets tomatoes and cucumbers Reuters
Once complete the greenhouse project is intended to cover 20 hectares and produce tomatoes and cucumbers all year round
  • ADQ and Safe Have Solutions to build 10-hectare facility
  • Targeting 40 kt of fresh fruit and veg a year
  • UAE takes 1.1% of global agtech investments

Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund ADQ has teamed up with Netherlands-based Safe Haven Solutions to build a high-tech greenhouse in the UAE capital.

The 10-hectare facility will be built in ADQ’s AgTech Park in Khalifa Economic Zones Abu Dhabi.

It will use advanced agriculture technology such as a cooling system inside the greenhouse to help reduce its carbon and water footprints.

To help meet the aim of increasing sustainable food production in the UAE, the greenhouse is intended to allow tomatoes and cucumbers to be grown all year round.

In the second phase of the project, the growing area will be doubled to 20 hectares as it enters the commercial stage.

“By driving investments in agtech solutions, we are strengthening the UAE’s ability to grow more produce domestically,” Gil Adotevi, CEO, food and agriculture at ADQ, said.

At full scale, the 200-hectare AgTech Park will target production volumes of over 40 kilotonnes of fresh fruits and vegetables annually. This would account for up to 6 percent of the UAE’s total consumption.

A joint report from Sharjah Research Technology and Innovation Park and Deep Knowledge Analytics suggests that in 2021 UAE-based companies received $600 million of investments into agtech – 1.1 percent of the global capital invested in the sector.

Pursuing food security

Earlier this month farms in the UAE 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 taskforce, a government group set up by the UAE’s Ministry of Climate Change and Environment in June. 

It 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. 

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

But concerns about the impact of climate change on food production are forcing governments to rethink food security.

Speaking at the UN Food Systems Summit in Rome last month, Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri, the UAE’s minister of climate change and the environment and Cop28 food systems lead, invited governments to sign the Leaders Declaration on Food Systems, Agriculture and Climate Action.

Cop28 will be held in Dubai in November.

The declaration calls on governments to align their food systems and agriculture strategies with UN climate targets such as nationally determined contributions and national adaptation plans.

The Cop28 presidency is also calling on food and agriculture stakeholders to accelerate existing initiatives.