– Mariam Hareb Almheiri, Minister of State for Food Security, concluded her trip to Queensland and New South Wales, Australia, by meeting with high-level federal government officials and visiting innovative private sector food production facilities to discuss important issues relating to future food security.
Alongside, Dr. Obaid Al Hayeri Salem Al Katbi, UAE Ambassador to Australia, and representatives of the Food Security Centre, Abu Dhabi, the Minister met David Littleproud, Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources and Niall Blair, NSW Minister for Primary Industries and Minister for Regional Water and Minister for Trade and Industry. During the visit, the delegation attended the Queensland Parliament, the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and the Australian Trade and Investment Commission to receive more insights on Australia’s food landscape.
During a visit to University of Technology, Sydney, Almheiri discussed the UAE’s research agenda regarding alternative food and applications to bring algae to the forefront of food applications, with the blooms used for human, animal and fish nutrition, as well as cosmetics and biofuel. The delegation reviewed how algae can provide threefold more protein yield than beef using virtually no land or freshwater.
The visit to Queensland University of Technology saw the UAE delegation looking at the applied research to utilise the robotics in harvesting and reviewing how to minimise food loss in the value chain. The research combined robotic vision and automation to develop new agricultural prototypes designed to identify and robotically harvest food produce, ensuring that it doesn’t leave any crops bruised or destroyed in the process. Discussions with the research team in charge assessed the commercial viability and potential application of the technology in the UAE to reduce food loss and enhance future food security.
The UAE delegation also visited a number of world-leading Australian companies that are embracing megatrends and piloting transformational initiatives to optimise both the supply and demand sides of food security by improving food production systems. the delegation looked at applications to change the profile of food currently eaten to make it both tastier and more nutritional. The company incubates research ideas from the food industry and accelerates their application to make it commercial – it is hoped that similar applications in the UAE could lead to healthy, same-taste, alternative food to their original unhealthy versions.
At a communal level, discussions on how to reconnect with food in urban settings was demonstrated through a visit to urban community farms that bring people of all ages together to educate them about how food is grown and prepared. The delegation agreed that such pilot initiatives are much needed in the UAE, where reliance on imported foodstuffs can result in the downplaying of the community’s connection with what they eat.
“Our visit to Australia was the middle stop on a three-leg international tour to find out more on how countries in the Asia-Pacific region are creating strategies to deal with food security. We discussed facilitating food trade and establishing regional food hubs,” the Minister of State for Food Security said.
“We would like to thank everyone we met with across the country – government officials and private sector stakeholders – who shared their experiences and expertise in sustainable food production. We have been able to draw some incredible insights from our visit that will help shape the finalising of the UAE’s National Food Security Strategy, which will be released in September this year and which will set out long-term policies for future food security in the UAE,” concluded Almheiri.