UAE seeks to develop not only its industry, trade, and tourism. The agriculture sector is also in focus. Due to its climatic features, farming is very complicated in the region, but the UAE government is not going to give up, and modern agricultural technologies are gradually coming to the Emirates, opening up new perspectives. So, the vertical farming market segment is expected to grow up to $1.2 billion by 2021, which makes this sector very attractive for foreign investors.
In the countries of the GCC, they rely on vertical agriculture and environment-controlled agriculture, and this is already generating increased interest from sizeable international market players who consider their opportunities for investment in the local economy. According to Orbis Research, the expected annual growth of the vertical farming market in the UAE is about 26.4% (from $0.38 billion in 2016 to $1.21 billion in 2021).
Among the countries of the region that are actively working in this direction, we can distinguish the UAE. Large and small projects have already been launched here with the support of the government and private companies to increase the productivity of agriculture and to replace imported products with domestic made products.
Thus, the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment of the United Arab Emirates has provided land plots to Shalimar Biotech Industries for building 12 vertical farms, including the world's largest vertical farm for Emirates Airlines.
It should be noted that such interest in the development of vertical farming is mainly due to the lack of arable land, limited water resources and the fact that the country is dependent on food imports (the UAE imports almost 90% of its food).
Mr. Mariam Al Mehiri, local Minister of Future Food Security, is planning an ambitious project — a “food valley,” a technology center the main task of which is to automate the cultivation of plants and processing of food products. The new government project is intended to strengthen the position of the UAE in agriculture. They borrowed their idea from Silicon Valley in the USA. Once promising startups, like Google, Apple and Amazon have managed to grow into world giants. Something like this they are going to implement here in the UAE, in the field of agriculture.
The region of Africa and the Middle East is a very promising place for the development of CEA.
Modern agricultural technologies make it possible to achieve a much higher rate of productivity than traditional agriculture, even with limited water resources and poor soil, such as in the UAE. All this is thanks to the environment control, which artificially creates optimal conditions for plant growth.
The International Agricultural Exhibition, AgraME, which will be held in Dubai in 2019, is an effective platform for the exchange of experience and the introduction of new technologies in the industry.
Mr. Henry Gordon-Smith, Managing Director of Agritecture, a recognized expert in the field of urban agriculture, noted the high potential for agricultural development in the region. Here, in the UAE, in less than 50 years, they managed to turn a small fisher village into a super modern metropolis. Now they are going to do the same with their agriculture. Something that not so long ago was a simple craft becomes a super-high-tech industry, possibly the best in the world. Here they rely on increasing productivity through the use of modern knowledge and technology, creating an environment conducive to plant growth with minimal water consumption.
In his report, sales manager, Van der Hoeven, Mr. Bob Hansch, noted the growth in the horticultural sector in the UAE and the Middle East as a whole. New projects are already emerging with huge greenhouses covering an area of more than ten hectares. For example, a greenhouse on 11 hectares, on which modern climate control technologies are applied, is capable of producing at least 3,000 tons of tomatoes per year, collecting several harvests during a year.
The director of the AgraME exhibition, Samantha Blisby, said that a new platform is created in the region for the application of modern technologies, free exchange of experience and training under the UN program of zero hunger, it will significantly increase the productivity of agriculture in the region with the sustainable use of water and land resources
Major global market players such as Van der Hoeven, Wuxi, Certhon, Agrotonomy, Veggitech, Ozorganic Urban Farming LLP and iGrowths Technology Co. take part in the exhibition.
The exhibition in 2019 will be held from March 5 to March 7 at the Dubai World Trade Center. Leading innovators and experts in the field agriculture are going to visit AgraME 2019 to share their valuable knowledge and experience.