I started experimenting with solutions that allow the exploitation of large areas of land
Will the deserts of the UAE become a center for future agriculture?
The challenges of the "Covid-19" pandemic demonstrated the importance of the "National Strategy for Food Security 2051" that the country launched in 2018. From the source
Population growth, diminishing and limited resources, and the exacerbation of climate change raise the issue of food security to all governments of the world. In 2018, about 820 million people worldwide suffered from hunger, and this problem continues to worsen year after year. By the year 2050, the world population will increase by two billion, bringing the total number of people in need of food to 9.7 billion, and then in 2100 it will reach 11 billion, and we must find ways to cultivate and produce food more efficiently.
It is known that most of the Arab countries' lands are arid and suffer from scarcity of water. Therefore, they depend on imported food to meet their food needs. For example, the UAE imports from 80 to 90% of its total food, and the challenges of the recent "Covid-19" pandemic demonstrated the importance of the "National Food Security Strategy 2051", which the country launched in 2018. Globally, scientists and farmers are looking for solutions to produce more food. With less water and less land. Indeed, the UAE has begun experimenting with a number of these solutions, which will allow it to exploit vast areas of its desert lands. Some of these solutions have proven their suitability as a future alternative in food production. Here are some of the most promising technologies in this field:
1. Algae production
Scientists in Abu Dhabi are leading the production of desert algae, and they are developing a type of microalgae that could be sustainable animal feed instead of soy. Scientists in Abu Dhabi are also looking into the possibility of producing large algae - meaning seaweed - under the same conditions, which are among the most popular foods in Asia. It is worth noting that algae can grow in dry, salty, or low-nutrient lands, without the need for fresh water, and has three times more protein than beef. Its production can greatly reduce the need for conventional agriculture.
2. Artificial meat
Laboratory meat is sometimes referred to as cultured meat, which is meat that is made with vegetable products, without using any animals. It is not available in the global market yet, but many companies are working on its research and development, hoping that it will greatly reduce the need for intensive agriculture and levels of carbon dioxide. The value of this field's funds amounted to about $ 140 million (most of which is in the United States), with the increase in demand for non-meat products, as customers become more aware of their environmental footprint, and the UAE deserts are expanding to establish facilities for growing these meat in the future.
3. Agricultural greenhouses
In the UAE already desert greenhouses, and companies including the Pure Harvest Company, which was founded in 2016, produces two tons of tomatoes per day on one hectare. These greenhouses rely on a combination of hydroponics, mechanical and evaporative cooling systems that convert moisture into water and control the climate, producing fresh vegetables and fruits throughout the year in nutrient baths instead of soil, with about 95% of the wastewater being recycled. . It is also expected that desert greenhouses will be energy efficient, if combined with renewable energy - such as solar and wind energy - and desalinated water.In 2019, a Chinese program, in cooperation with the Wuhan Haidao International Company, succeeded in diverting about 3.6 hectares of arid desert The proximity of the suburbs of Dubai to green rice fields, and the productivity of rice in the salty lands of the Dubai desert reached 9.4 metric tons per hectare, which is a record in rice production, and the company is working under a 10-year cooperation plan to expand experimental farms and encourage commercial adoption in All over the UAE, and since March 2020, a team from the "Desert Control" company in Dubai has been working on an experiment to grow watermelons and squash in a desert plot of land near the city.
4. Breeding insects
It is true that there is no high demand for eating insects in the West, but humans have eaten them for thousands of years, and they have been eaten by the customs of many Asian towns. In fact, the United Nations stated that 20% of people eat them. It is a healthy alternative to meat, because it is rich in protein, healthy fats, calcium, iron and zinc, of which about 1,900 types are edible; On top of that, livestock emit less greenhouse gases, and require smaller areas, so raising them is more environmentally friendly. Crickets, for example, are rich in protein, and they require six times less food than cows, and are suitable for breeding with organic waste. They can be reared internally throughout the year; And soon after the European Union authorizes its consumption, its market will grow in the coming years, with its value expected to exceed $ 710 million by 2024.
5 - Food production facilities with advanced technologies
Sustainable closed facilities dedicated to producing high-productivity food represent a future solution to obtain high-value foods, such as: fish and fresh leafy vegetables. These facilities rely on advanced technologies to create a controlled environment for food production. For example, Fish Farm in the Jebel Ali area in Dubai produces 3000 tons of fish annually, and the smart "Badia" farm in Dubai produces leafy plants of lettuce, cabbage and basil, using vertical hydroponics technology under pink rays, without the need for sunlight, or A lot of water. The farm recycles 90% of the water it uses, and produces hundreds of kilograms annually, in order to cover the needs of the local market.
By 2050, the world’s population will increase by 2 billion, bringing the total number of people in need of food to 9.7 billion.