UAE: Using apps to grow food in the desert

An app to detect crop disorders, and an e-platform to teach farmers innovative techniques, are some of the ways in which a local agency is using new technology to make agriculture more effective in the UAE.

The International Center for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA), which has become one of the most important players in researching food security in the UAE, has been using technology to make services more readily available.

Dr.Tarifa AlZaabi, Director-General at ICBA, explained how the app is helping farmers. “Called Dr. Nabat, the application created with the support of local partners in Egypt, Tunisia, and the UAE,” she said. “[It] is designed to aid smallholder farmers and extension specialists in spotting crop disorders at early stages, and thus minimizing yield losses and improving incomes. It can identify 18 different common disorders affecting tomato, capsicum, and cucumber.”

According to Dr. Tarifa, an e-platform provides specialized coaching to farmers as well. “The platform currently features five courses, which were created with support from donors and partners, including the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi,” she said. “These courses include both advanced courses for professionals and specialists and intermediate ones for students and beginners in land management, crop diversification, genetics, climate change modeling, and adaptation.”


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