The traditional approach of the food industry has been undergoing radical transformation with agritech which highlights the use of technology. We believe there is an upcoming agricultural revolution that uses technology at its heart with an eye to improve yield, efficiency, and profitability for the industry.
That said, the agriculture sector is now more connected than before. Therefore, the industry can look at both the value chain and supply side to ensure food security across countries. Whether through using drones, IoT-based sensor networks, phase tracking, forecasting, automated irrigation & harvesting, the UAE has implemented innovative and modern sectors to ensure that the country can become self-reliant.
UNS farms which were founded in Dubai in 2018 is an example of a fully automated farming style. The farms harvests a wide variety of crops ranging from leafy to microgreens, herbs to fresh fodder, strawberry to mushrooms among others, through sustainable agricultural practices that improves soil fertility to tackle issues pertaining to food scarcity. The farm saves 90 percent of the water and only uses 1/4th of the land and adds no chemicals.
Within the UAE, different companies have implemented soil management techniques to be able to grow crops in the desert. In some cases, as an example, sand becomes coated with a particular technology that allows the passage of air through its particles to harness the water. The technological advancement in this sector can help countries with arid weather to grow crops in their lands that would not have grown otherwise.
The UAE has said they have been using data to create strategies that advance the transition to a sustainable future. Meanwhile, ensuring the provision of safe and healthy food at affordable prices. It is safe to state that both modern farms and agricultural operations entities have been leading the innovation in the technology of the sector. Whether in the UAE or elsewhere in the region, we expect the agriculture sector will use far more sophisticated robotic technologies that will make the sector more sustainable and environmentally friendly.
It is important to view agriculture from a holistic perspective to drive investment in the agritech sector by collaborating with other stakeholders including the farmers and governments to build a more sustainable platform. The UAE; as an example, has recommended in March of this year to “support agricultural accelerator programs and projects that enhance food security, facilitate technology transfer, drive agricultural R&D focusing on modern technologies suitable for the local environment.” They have also recommended controlling the imports of food products that compete with local products in terms of pricing, to give more room for local food within the market. Through these approaches the government is incentivizing the market to buy local products; hence, increasing their presence in the supply chain.