Interview: Saeed Al Bahri Salem Al Ameri

How does the newly restructured ADAFSA plan to achieve its long-term goals for the local industry?

SAEED AL BAHRI SALEM AL AMERI: The restructured ADAFSA will help achieve Abu Dhabi’s long-term goals of food security, food safety and biosecurity through the development of policies and strategies aimed at sustainable food and agriculture. These strategies will contribute to the consolidation of our food security system while also promoting Abu Dhabi’s food and agriculture sector.

A key aspect of this endeavour is supporting local farmers and livestock breeders by strengthening partnerships between the public and the private sectors and encouraging more investment in the sector. Quality assurance is a priority; we maintain high standards in agriculture and food products at all stages of the food chain, from farm to table. Through building our technical capabilities, we can ensure the safety of our food.

ADAFSA also oversees the establishment and management of strategic food reserves for emergencies, in coordination with other government agencies and the private sector. We are working to increase local production and improve its quality, maximising the sector’s contribution to food security.

Where are the major investment opportunities in Abu Dhabi’s food sector, and what measures is ADAFSA taking to attract investors?

AL AMERI: ADAFSA’s newly established investment segment has already identified several opportunities within 15 targeted investment areas, including milk collection and cheese and milk powder production, as well as seeds, honey, plant tissue culture, crops, dates, vegetables and fruits, livestock, poultry meat and egg, algae, secondary livestock products and fisheries. Other areas of opportunity include developing animal vaccines and medications, post-harvest solutions (such as cooling, storing and processing crops), the vegetable drying and freezing industry, vegetable and fruit packing, recycling green waste and food waste industries.

In order to attract investors, ADAFSA developed an investors’ kit that defines processes and opportunities within the agriculture sector. We showcase such opportunities through different global exhibitions and conferences. Similarly, ADAFSA’s website and social media platforms are used as a medium to reach out to investors. We are expanding our segment’s collaboration and cooperation with other governmental bodies, such as the Abu Dhabi Investment Office.

In what ways is ADAFSA promoting greater engagement in innovative agriculture solutions?

AL AMERI: ADAFSA established its research and development (R&D) department to find solutions to local problems in food and agriculture. Scientific and technological progress can help us in the exploitation of wealth and national resources in the local environment.

Climatic conditions in Abu Dhabi, such as the scarcity of water and sandy soil, are among the harshest when it comes to agricultural production.

Our R&D department is working to understand the sustainability of current agricultural and livestock systems, to develop and introduce new technologies to improve agricultural economics, water efficiency and productivity; to develop evidence-based policies on land use and environmental management; and to ensure the safe distribution of food products.

Most private sector companies hesitate to invest in agricultural R&D except for agri-inputs. There are numerous avenues for R&D in agriculture and food in Abu Dhabi, like post-harvest technologies, food processing, animal breeding, precision farming and honey production, which can boost local businesses.

To achieve our vision, ADAFSA is focusing on active mutual participation with key stakeholders, prospective partners and collaborators, both domestic and international. Regular meetings and discussions are taking place so that we can prioritise research and improve its implementation, as well as further build our capacity.