Union Coop, the largest consumer in the UAE, revealed the volume of its sales of local irganic and hydroponic fresh vegetables and fruits, amounting to more than AED 29 million since the beginning of the year 2021, noting that supporting and encouraging local agriculture comes at the top of its priorities to achieve sustainable agricultural goals and enhance stocks and food security in the country.
Mr. Yaqoob Al Balooshi, Fresh Category Trade Dept. Manager, Union Coop, stressed that Union Coop has been keen for decades to support local products of all kinds and types and to support Emirati farmers on an ongoing basis by providing great facilities to local farms to encourage sustainable agriculture, in addition to contributing to building sustainable food security. He pointed out that the number of farms that the Union Coop deals with is about 52 of which 24 are organic, 12 are traditional, and the hydroponic farms that the Union Coop deals with are 16, adding that the Union Coop imports varieties of vegetables and fruits directly from many countries to ensure the availability of products to meet the needs of valued shoppers and offer at competitive prices.
He stated that the value of sales of local products since the beginning of this year in the various branches and centers of the Union Coop exceeded AED 29 million, as the value of purchases from traditional farms amounted to AED 8 million, the value of purchases from hydroponic farms 6 AED million, and the value of purchases from organic farms AED 15 million approx. He pointed out that the average quantities of vegetables and fruits supplied to the Union Coop, whether imported or from local farms, are 100 tons per day, of which fruits are about 40 tons per day, and vegetables are about 60 tons per day.
In addition, he indicated that the Union Coop has many plans and strategies to support local farms, the most important of which are the easy registration procedures and easy contracting with farmers and the payment of financial dues to Emirati farmers in record times. Union Coop is also the strategic partner and supporter of the (Zaari) Hydroponics Program of the Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development; it has been marketing organic farm products of Emiratis since 2007 and hydroponic products since 2009. It also allocates spaces for displaying the products of Emirati farmers in all branches free of cost, creating investment opportunities for Emirati farmers, and directing them to cultivate important and required varieties of popular products to consumers through a pre-planned annual program.
He added that Union Coop also organizes periodic visits to farms and works to follow up production inputs and lines, and holds timely meetings under its supervision to exchange experiences and best agricultural and commercial practices with Emirati farmers, and holds workshops and training courses for them in the cooperative to encourage them to develop and innovate the way of presentation and mobilization and help them develop special slogans for marketing.