According to data from the Emirates Authority for Standardisation and Metrology (ESMA), the number of organic farms in the UAE risen 53 percent over the last six months. According to the same data, the number of products has also grown, up 89% from 1,240 in the last quarter of 2018 to 2,356 in the first quarter of 2019.
During the same period, 1 million square metres of organic farmland in the UAE produced 1,116 new organic products, including vegetables, fruits and dates, farms for meat, poultry, eggs and other products, according to ESMA Director General Abdullah Al Maeeni.
The statistics include products that are grown naturally without the use of prohibited chemical pesticides and which are produced using national, non-genetically modified organisms (GMO seeds. Hydroponics are not included. Farms that meet these criteria are granted an “organic” mark by ESMA in a certificate of conformity received by each farm.
Food security has been identified as a priority by the UAE’s government. Last year, UAE Minister of State for Food Security Mariam Al Mehairi said that it is “one of the biggest challenges we will face in the future”. To address the issue, the UAE – which imports approximately 90 percent of its food – hopes to boost local food production by 40 percent.
In March, Abu Dhabi has pledged AED 5.6 billion ($1.52 billion) to support research and development revolving around water scarcity and food security.