Value of AAAID’s investments in existing projects in UAE worth US$1.55 billion: Mohamed Al Mazrooei

DUBAI, Mohamed bin Obaid Al Mazrooei, President and Chairman of the Arab Authority for Agricultural Investment and Development (AAAID), said that the total value of the authority’s investments in current projects in the UAE is valued at US$1.55 billion, while lauding the progress of the smart projects launched in the country’s agricultural and food industry sectors.

In an interview with the Emirates News Agency (WAM), Al Mazrooei said these investments include the establishment of the Al Rawabi Dairy Company in 2001, which is the first project in the UAE that received investment from the authority.

The authority has cooperated with investors from the private sector to engage in agricultural projects related to irrigation in the UAE and Saudi Arabia, as well as fish farming projects in Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, he added. The authority is currently involved in six fish farming projects, including new ones in the UAE.

He explained that under this framework, the authority is evaluating several investment opportunities in Saudi Arabia, including investing in the expansion of a pioneering company involved in fish farming that would improve its current work, increase its production capacity by about 5,000 tonnes and add new types of fish.

Al Mazrooei also spoke about the authority’s focus on a wide range of food products, most notably grains, meat, dairy products, vegetable oils and sugar. He added that wheat is an important grain crop, so the authority has jointly launched agriculture projects related to wheat with small-scale farmers.

In this context, he talked about wheat cultivation in Sudan, where the area used to cultivate the crop totalled some 18,000 hectares from 2015 to 2021. The authority’s experience led to the adoption of an integrated technology package that generated a rise in the productivity in wheat crops of more than 150 percent, he noted.

Some 13,000 hectares of wheat will be planted during the winter season in 2022 and 2023 in the fields of small-scale Sudanese farmers, he further said. In addition, the authority has launched an initiative to deal with shortages of key food products in the Arab region, including wheat.

He then highlighted the importance of wheat to Arab communities since it is a critical crop that offers essential nutrition, helps maintain stability, and contributes to eradicating poverty and diseases.

Al Mazrooei commended the UAE’s keenness to establish agricultural projects based on comprehensive food management by applying sustainability standards to double food production. He highlighted the Food Tech Valley project launched by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, and the Bustanak project.

Such projects represent progress in the agricultural sector regarding the local adoption of modern technologies to address the scarcity of agricultural land and challenging climate conditions through employing innovative solutions based on artificial intelligence (AI) and advanced technologies, he explained.

He also stressed the great potential for successful agricultural investment in GCC countries. The agriculture sector has witnessed significant development in recent years in light of the outcomes of related research studies and the rise in agricultural investments in GCC and Arab countries, he noted.

He affirmed that the UAE and GCC countries offer many advantages, including attractive investment environments that ensure economic stability and new laws that provide facilities for agricultural projects.

Al Mazrooei said that AAAID is advancing its investment and administrative business to support the development process, keeping pace with global changes, and improving the organisational working environment.

Under this framework, the authority has established a quality control system according to global ISO standards and has acquired the Certificate of Conformity from Germany after being audited by German firm TÜV PROFiCERT, he added.

Highlighting the crucial challenges facing the authority, he noted that it had overcome many of these over many years, which enabled it to acquire significant experience in investing to achieve Arab food security.

The significant challenges facing the expansion of agricultural projects include the lack of an attractive investment environment in some Arab countries and poor infrastructure, Al Mazrooei stated.

He also referred to the lack of structural reforms in the agricultural sector required to strengthen market mechanisms and the absence of regulations to ensure competitiveness, anti-trust and quality assurance measures, health safety procedures, vegetable and livestock health, consumer protection and resource protection.

Additionally, he highlighted the weakness of investment mechanisms and the need to improve investment-related laws to encourage the private sector to engage in agricultural development.

Source: Emirates News Agency