Dr. Dino Francescutti Motis, FAO Subregional Coordinator for the GCC states and Yemen and FAO Representative in the UAE, has said that the UAE is supporting FAO in many forms, both in-kind and financially as the country is committed to creating conditions for worldwide sharing of knowledge on agriculture and rural development that are critical for future generations.
The FAO Representative also said that the country had developed a comprehensive national food security strategy to position it as number one in the Global Food Security Index by 2051.
Dr. Motis added that the UAE joined FAO in 1973, and in 2005, FAO established its representation in the country with UAE funding. A few years later, in 2010, FAO Sub-regional Office for the GCC states and Yemen was established in Abu Dhabi. The mandate and priorities of the Sub-regional Office are to contribute to the improvement of food, water, and nutrition security and the development of sustainable, inclusive, resilient, and efficient agri-food systems.
He noted that the UAE is supporting FAO in many forms, both in-kind and financially. The UAE has financially supported most staff and operational costs of the FAO Subregional Office since its establishment. In 2012, the UAE financed the construction of the Sheikh Zayed International Media and Knowledge Centre (SZC) at FAO headquarters in Rome (Italy) to embody the enlightened vision of the UAE founding father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan on the role of agriculture in the service of culture and human progress.
The SZC features a state-of-the-art conference hall for live virtual events, postproduction and e-learning facilities, which is a testament to the commitment of the UAE to create conditions for worldwide sharing of knowledge on agriculture and rural development that are critical for future generations.
Motis also stated that in 2021, under the framework of the Hand-in-Hand Initiative, FAO and UAE signed a strategic funding agreement for a project in Zimbabwe, “Hand-in-Hand Zimbabwe-Smallholder Horticulture Recovery and Inclusion”. The project objective is to reduce poverty and hunger among smallholder farmers through effective market participation.
The UAE provided another contribution in support of FAO’s Regional Programme for controlling and managing the Red-Palm Weevil in the Near East and North Africa (NENA) region.
He also shed light on the UAE’s contribution of UAE support to Liberia through FAO to support rural development by “Promoting increased resilience and sustainable income generation, food security and nutrition for rural women”. The contribution aims to support rural women with improved and sustainable poultry and vegetable production. In addition to FAO support, and a strategic UAE partner will provide solar energy solutions to support irrigation, cold storage, mills, and other key farming operations.
The UAE funded FAO support aims to increase crop yields in scalable ways. Improved seeds have been provided in one major rice-growing area, together with international and national expertise to strengthen the capacity of farmers and district agriculture officers working for Liberia’s Ministry of Agriculture.
The funds also contributed to procuring chicks, poultry vaccines, fertilisers, power tillers, and vehicles for marketing. One aim is to facilitate the establishment of producer groups into cooperatives or marketing associations and, in general, boost rural women’s capacity to engage in basic business and entrepreneurship.
Speaking about the efforts made by the UAE regarding food security locally and globally, the FAO representative commends the UAE’s efforts in this regard, adding that food security is a high priority in the UAE.
In this regard, he highlighted that the UAE is the first country in the world that has appointed a Minister of State for Food and Water Security to streamline all efforts towards ensuring adequate, safe, affordable, and nutritious food for all. The UAE has developed a comprehensive national food security strategy, intending to be ranked number one in the Global Food Security Index by 2051.
The UAE has also established a number of committees to support and provide strategic guidance and advice on issues related to food security in the countries. The UAE actively participated in the United Nations Food Systems Summit, held last year, and has conducted its national dialogue, bringing more than 100 stakeholders from all sectors.
The UAE hosted successfully, in collaboration with FAO and other partners, the Food For Future Summit during Expo Dubai 2020. The Summit brought national, regional and international experts and stakeholders to discuss and reflect on the priorities, actions, partnerships and investments needed to catalyse positive and sustainable changes to enable the transformation of food systems to become more efficient, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable for better production, better environment, better nutrition and better life.
At the UAE level, there is a collaboration with FAO and other national partners to conduct the Food For Life campaign to raise awareness and strengthen the engagement of all for healthy diets from sustainable food systems. The aim is to promote a change in the UAE towards sustainable & healthier food choices for the wellbeing of people and the planet.
The FAO Subregional Office is at the forefront of the Organisation’s support to the UAE initiatives in innovation applied to the management of food, agriculture, and natural resources for sustainable growth. Our projects target strengthening research, technology, and innovation for food security, developing aquaculture and livestock sectors, assessing the food-safety control system, and planning for sustainable development of agriculture with special attention to the Abu Dhabi Emirate.
On the research, technology and innovation, FAO is providing technical support to the UAE and Saudi Arabia to develop a joint agenda for research, technology and innovation. This important project represents a major milestone in the efforts by the two countries to harness and unlock the potential of research, technology and innovation to enable the transformation of agri-food systems and the attainment of many targets of the national food security strategies of the two respective countries.