The Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE), the World Food Programme (WFP), and the Food Tech Valley signed a memorandum of understanding to strengthen innovation in food systems and agriculture. The MOU was signed during the UAE year of sustainability and as part of the Ministry’s preparations for the Conference of the Parties COP28 hosted in Dubai later this year. The agreement highlights the commitment of the Ministry to strengthen UAE food systems and agriculture, and to keep pace with the latest developments and technologies across the food value chain to achieve the objectives of the UAE National Food Security Strategy.
The agreement was signed at the Ministry’s headquarters in Dubai by H.E. Mohammed Saeed Al Nuaimi, Acting Undersecretary of the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment; His Excellency Hesham Al Qassim, Vice Chairman & Chief Executive Officer at Wasl , the company responsible for managing and developing Food Tech Valley; Abdel Mageed Yahia, the Director of the United Nations World Food Programme Office in the United Arab Emirates and WFP’s Representative to the Gulf Cooperation Council Countries; along with officials from the signatory parties.
H.E. Mohammed Saeed Al Nuaimi stressed the keenness of the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment to cooperate with the other parties to implement the objectives of the National Food Security Strategy to develop sustainable local production and promote smart technologies in food production.
He added: “Our collaboration with WFP and their Innovation Accelerator and the Food Tech Valley aims to exchange expertise and experiences that support the application of advanced solutions to manage the entire food system in the country. This is in order to achieve various nutritional, environmental and climate goals. Modern food systems represent a major pillar in our endeavours to enhance national food security. We aim to share our experience with the world, during COP28. The UAE encourages countries to sign the ‘Emirates Declaration on Resilient Food Systems, Sustainable Agriculture, and Climate Action’ to eliminate world hunger.”
H.E. concluded: “We are pleased with the continued cooperation with the World Food Programme and Food Tech Valley, and we look forward to strengthening this partnership to serve all our mutual goals.”
H.E Hesham Al Qassim said: “Food security is one of the UAE’s strategic goals for the future of the country. Innovation and technology will help pave the way to achieve these goals, and solve some of the world’s greatest challenges, while food security can pave the path to peace, progress, and stability. We strive to deliver this positive impact at scale alongside the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment and the United Nations World Food Program, the world’s largest humanitarian organization. Our mission to create resilient food systems has been strengthened by this powerful and strategic partnership, and we look forward to future collaboration to address food security locally, regionally, and globally”.
Abdel Mageed Yahia said: “WFP is delighted to partner with both the United Arab Emirates Ministry of Climate Change and Environment and Food Tech Valley to create real and lasting impact on global food systems through the transformative power of innovation. WFP brings a rich history of using innovation in fragile contexts spanning over six decades, from pioneering humanitarian airlifts to scaling up cutting-edge technologies that improve program delivery and empowering local innovators to create local solutions throughout our operations. With WFP’s global outreach and the specialised expertise of our Innovation Accelerator under the leadership of Bernhard Kowatsch, WFP’s specialised team that fosters and scales innovative solutions to real humanitarian and development problems, combined with the vision of the Ministry and the expertise of the Food Tech Valley, we can catalyse a revolutionary transformation in food systems, for more resilient and sustainable livelihoods. As per the MoU, the three parties will explore ways of cooperation to exchange information on key innovative initiatives and related opportunities that advance the shared priorities of MOCCAE, Food Tech Valley, and the WFP’s Innovation Accelerator. The three parties also agreed to share innovations that power the achievement of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.
For WFP, the agreement will explore opportunities to benefit from innovative practices, tools and technologies supported by Food Tech Valley, and strengthening strategic cooperation.
“This collaboration between the United Arab Emirates Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, Food Tech Valley, and WFP will allow us to even further level-up ground-breaking solutions in the climate and food security space. WFP’s Innovation Accelerator will be a ready contributor to this work. I’m excited about how we can take WFP’s existing innovation work, supporting over 150 innovations and reaching 37 million people worldwide, combined with the Food Tech Valley and the Ministry to maximise the enablement and nurturing of water-smart and food systems innovations around the world” said Bernhard Kowatsch, Head of WFP Innovation Accelerator.
The agreement aims to mobilise funds and resources for the implementation of activities. It also seeks to undertake studies, provide training, conduct boot camps, research, seminars, workshops, meetings, conferences, and symposia for the exchange experiences and other information that impact UAE, regional and global food security concerns. The memorandum also focuses on cooperation to pioneer innovative solutions that address food security challenges and to collaborate in the undertaking of effective projects to address these challenges. Additionally, it aims to contribute to the UAE 2050 agenda and COP28 commitments to global sustainability.i Hannah,
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In this insightful episode from Veolia’s Let’s Turn The Tide podcast, William Ward from Green Eco Technologies, Amna Elfour from Bestby, and Marketing Director Marie Therese discuss food waste and food scarcity in the UAE.
This important episode of Veolia’s Let’s Turn The Tide podcast brings together Sara Jackson from the Circular Packaging Association, Monir Bou Ghanem from the Environment Agency of Abu Dhabi, and resourcer Ronald Richa, Project Director at Veolia Near and Middle East to discuss plastic waste, initiatives targeting the issue, and innovative solutions.
RIT Dubai graduate, Hames Sherif, publishes book to advance pathway to zero hunger
On a mission to support the global campaign for zero hunger, a Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) Dubai graduate published a book to share her findings on predicting staple crop yields in arid and desert climates. Using a branch of artificial intelligence known as machine learning, Hames Sherif has applied her graduate research studies to develop a model that could help farmers manage their resources more efficiently and aid long-term food security.
Inspired by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 2, which aims to create a world free of hunger by 2030, Hames explored using her passion for data and statistics to address food security. Through a study conducted as part of her Master of Science in Professional Studies: Data Analytics degree, Hames used a standard algorithm to create a tool to estimate more accurately how much crop will be produced in a season. The resulting research paper attracted attention from the international academic community and was subsequently published in a book by Eliva Press.
Revealing the motivation behind her work, Hames said, “I discovered that in 2009, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations predicted that agricultural production would need to increase by 60% to sustain a population that is expected to exceed 9 billion by 2050. An important part of the challenge for policymakers is predicting crop production. Traditionally, farmers depended on their expertise to estimate crop yields and make decisions accordingly. However, data mining techniques can offer a more reliable approach.”
Originally from Egypt, Hames added, “African nations have been experiencing food insecurity for a long time. So, the research is centred on African countries with desert and semi-arid climates. I decided to focus on staple crops like maize, wheat and rice, which are the essential produce needed to sustain a population and cover their basic nutritional needs. As part of my research, I also explored the factors that affect the fluctuations in crop yields.”
Explaining the results of her research, Hames said, “I tested various models to arrive at a solution that relies on domain expertise as well as historical data to build a prediction model. Interestingly, the widely known factors, like fertilisers, precipitation and temperature, were not among those with the highest effect on crop yield. What’s more, factors like the uptake of agricultural machinery and population growth benefit staple crop yields, as more specialised physical and human resources lead to the adoption of more advanced farming practices.”
Speaking about Hames’ research and her contribution to the field, Dr Khalil Al Hussaeni, Assistant Professor of Computing at RIT Dubai, said, “When Hames approached me for supervision, I was very intrigued by this topic for being a humanitarian cause. A major challenge in this endeavour was the lack of detailed and comprehensive data on which the entire study would be based. I am happy to see that, with strong motivation and willpower, Hames overcame those challenges. We hope that the results of this study will be a vital contributors to the advancement of global food security.”
Sharing her aspirations for the project’s future, Hames concluded, “I’m grateful that my research has been published and become available to the international community. I hope it will encourage more investment in crop yield data collection, which would greatly improve the forecasts and help make an even bigger impact on global food security.”