Indeed, the UAE is India’s third largest trading partner with bilateral trade of US $ 59.1 billion in 2019-2020. In addition, it is also recognized that India is keen to work closely with UAE as a reliable partner in food security, as UAE-India food corridor is expected to attract investment to the tune of $ 7 billion. of United Arab Emirates dollars. Dubai can be a gateway for Indian food and agribusiness companies to market their products and services globally, believes Dr Aman Puri, India’s general counsel in Dubai.
According to him, the United Arab Emirates should not be seen as a mere market of 10 million consumers, but rather as a springboard for the entire Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. The UAE is actually considered food secure due to its ability to import food from international markets. However, the country is placing more emphasis on strengthening its agricultural and food capacities to achieve food self-sufficiency. To this end, the Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, launched the country’s first Food Technology Valley last year.
The Food Technology Valley is founded on the premise of promoting innovation in agriculture to achieve food security from sustainable sources, while Dubai is already adopting next-generation agricultural technologies. âDubai has already realized that vertical agriculture reduces water use by 95%,â says Suresh Kumar, chairman of the Indian Council of Business and Professionals in Dubai. Vertical farming, smart farming, aeroponics, hydroponics, IoT and other new era technologies have resulted in a 53% increase in production, according to Kumar.
As for India, the country is on the threshold of a historic change in the nature of food processing. It is now moving towards value-added, processed and ready-to-eat foods. That being said, there has never been a better time for Indian businesses to exploit the opportunities that the UAE and Dubai offer. However, the UAE and India face a common challenge in creating an end-to-end, farm-to-fork value chain perspective. Thus, in the future, the two countries can deepen their collaboration and help each other to achieve this goal.
The capital-intensive nature of the UAE is ideally suited to India in need of funding injections for infrastructure creation. According to Kumar, all sovereign wealth funds have an investment capacity of around US $ 1.2 trillion, which is growing by 18% per year. “This will continue for a long time, even when the oil and gas run out,” he reveals. This explains why there are so many challenges for the two countries in their quest for a future of food security. What is needed are clear projects that can be invested in on both sides and the rapid removal of bottlenecks, if any, for the common good.