Wed 06-05-2020 21:28 PM
ABU DHABI, 6th May 2020 (WAM) – The United Arab Emirates’ resilient food system is tackling head-on the issues related to the global food supply during the current situation, a senior official said at the Majlis Mohamed bin Zayed on Wednesday.
Mariam Mohammed Almheiri, Minister of State for Food Security, gave an insightful overview of initiatives focused on building the resilient food system in the UAE at the Majlis’ second virtual session, which aired live on Emarat TV on Wednesday.
Titled ‘Nourishing the Nation: Food Security in the UAE,’ the episode shared vital insight into the measures being taken by the ministry to tackle the challenges posed to food security by the current COVID-19 pandemic.
A live discussion followed with His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, joined by H.H. Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs; Saeed Al Bahri Salem Al Ameri, Director General of Abu Dhabi Agriculture and Food Safety Authority, ADAFSA; Dr. Tarifa Al Zaabi, Deputy Director General of the International Centre for Biosaline Agriculture, ICBA; and Bader Mohamed Obaid bin Mubarak, Chief Executive of Fish Farm.
Mariam Almheiri also spoke about the establishment of the State Ministry for Food Security, which enabled food security to receive dedicated attention locally across all stakeholders in the country.
She went on to explain the swift actions taken by the Ministry in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, such as setting up the Emirates Food Security Council to coordinate efforts across all federal entities and local authorities.
As soon as the global pandemic hit, the council held an extraordinary meeting to develop an early mechanism system to monitor food imports and local food production capacity potential. The council also connected with the Food Security Alliance companies in the UAE to best prepare for all scenarios.
"In a way, going through this crisis is testing whether we have set up robust systems. And it has shown that this strategy has set the right foundation to be able to overcome this crisis," Mariam Almheiri said.
She also touched on the importance of supporting local production and reducing food waste. She highlighted the communication strategies the council implemented to raise awareness of the necessary steps to avoid excessive food buying and encouraged the public to observe healthier eating habits to build up immunity.
The session emphasised the value of supporting local agriculture. "Many people do not realise that the UAE grows much food. These foods are not only delicious because they are fresh, but they are also full of nutrients. We encourage the public to buy locally," Mariam Almheiri added.
The lecture prompted deep reflection and a lively discussion between His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, joined by other dignitaries.
His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed thanked all the frontline workers and those working behind the scenes to ensure that the UAE food supply chain is not disrupted.
"We are fortunate to have this level of expertise working tirelessly in this field that is currently challenged globally. We want to assure the people of the UAE, that the food supply chain was not and will not be disrupted," he said.
His Highness Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan added that supermarkets and food markets in Abu Dhabi would now provide a dedicated section to promote and sell locally grown produce to encourage production and sales.
The discussion included several questions and reflections by esteemed guests on bridging education, research and food security, as well as harnessing the power of technology in agriculture and coordination with fishermen associations and local producers.
The conversation also touched upon the initiatives and projects led by the UAE in recent years that had helped build a stronger foundation for the country in dealing with the current unprecedented global crisis.
The episode wrapped up with a tribute to the frontline workers in the food supply chain, who spoke with great pride at the UAE’s ability to sustain its food supply chain without disruption. The tribute included frontline workers in supermarkets, restaurants, farms, and ports, among others.
The Majlis Mohamed bin Zayed is a forum that hosts prominent leaders, scientists, thinkers, scholars and community members to engage in dialogue and debate to further contribute to a deeper understanding of the various issues that impact societies and human life.
This year, in light of the unprecedented circumstances that the world is witnessing, the Majlis continues in a new format a special series that airs weekly during Ramadan, inviting the community to participate, and engage with the topics shared, virtually.
The Ramadan lecture series was launched last week, with the inaugural session led by Dr. Omar Habtoor Al Darei, Executive Director of Islamic Affairs at the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments.
The Majlis Mohamed bin Zayed, in its reimagined virtual version, will be aired on Emarat TV, every Wednesday at 17:45, and will be broadcast on YouTube shortly after.