Ministry inspects fields, certifies 28 organic farms across UAE
The Ministry of Environment and Water (MoEW) has certified 28 organic farms across the UAE after they followed the set of standards issued by the ministry. Aimed at encouraging and promoting organic agriculture among the farmers, the ministry is currently implementing integrated systems to adopt modern agricultural techniques that will increase production of crops, improve financial returns of the farmers and stabilise food security in the country. The federal Law No.5 of 2009 regarding organic products outlines strict guidelines on the production of organic food in the UAE to encourage the local agricultural sector and boost the stocks of locally grown fresh produces. It also ensures that organic agriculture practices follow the regulations in all stages of production and their distribution. A spokesperson at the MoEW said that the guidelines and technical instructions for farmers are based on successful organic agricultural models in developed countries. Also, inspection visits to organic farms since the beginning of this year have been carried out to make sure farmers adhere to the standards and conditions set by the ministry.
“These inspections monitored the actual cultivated space at these sites, the quantity of production for each crop, and compliance to the requirements for organic agricultural practices. Specialists certify the farms after thoroughly testing the soil quality at their premises at three different levels, including ground level, 60cm depth and 120cm depth,” he added. “The crop samples are also tested during three different stages of growth to pick up any traces of chemicals. The ministry will develop a marketing mechanism for the locally-grown organic produce such as establishing a weekly market for selling such crops,” he indicated. According to the official, the technical team of the MoEW collected samples of soil, water and fruits for detailed analysis at the MoEW’s central lab. “The inspectors provided a number of solutions to farmers and owners of the organic farms, including a list of organic fertilisers and organic pesticides available in the market.” “The farmers were also educated on the pest control and mechanisms to prevent diseases that might affect the crops. The authority will also issue scientific guides to the farmers on the practices and fertilisation procedures at organic farms,” he elaborated.
Publication date: 7/5/2011
Food and agriculture-related investments abroad will only increase with time
Emirates Business has learnt that food and agriculture-related investments abroad will only increase with time. Yousef Diab, an economic researcher from the Ministry of Foreign Trade, told this paper that the country is continuously exploring several options abroad to sustain its food basket.
“The value of the UAE’s [agricultural] investments abroad have increased significantly from 2006 to 2008, with a 45 per cent growth. In 2006, agricultural investments were approximately $10.9 billion (Dh40bn). In 2007 they rose to $14.6bn and reached $15.8bn in 2008,” he said.
Diab added that while there were no precise figures for such investments in 2009, a synopsis of activity in the sector last year indicates that expansions abroad continued unabated. For instance, in 2009 Pakistan’s Ministry of Investment decided to offer a million acres of farmland to foreign investors, and the Emirates Investment Group (EIG) from the UAE was one of the investors.
Also in 2009, an investment plan was mooted by the UAE agricultural investment firm, Janan, with Egypt to cultivate about 42,000 hectares of land with wheat, maize and other crops in the North African country. The project will extend until 2015 and is expected to produce 350,000 tonnes of wheat a year, Diab said.
Last year, the UAE was also in talks with the Cambodian government for purchasing land in the South East Asian country for rice cultivation. The UAE even sent a delegation to Phnom Penh to pursue the acquisition of agricultural land, either though outright purchase or through a 99-year lease contract with the Cambodian government, said Diab.
“Most of the UAE’s investments abroad are by private investors. The government is also using part of its huge oil and gas revenues for the same purpose,” he said.
According to data available with the ministry, there are many UAE agricultural investments taking place in countries far and wide, especially in the ones with proximity to the UAE.
Diab said, there are five projects being studied for launch in Jordan, with a total value of Dh201.35 million or JD39m. The projects include a JD4m kiwifruit orchard, a JD5m sheep farm, a JD2m seawater greenhouse, and a JD20m tractor assembly plant.
According to data up to June 2009, the UAE already contributes in Jordan with the Rashid Al Dhahiri Olive Presses Company, as well as the Al Marmouqa Food Company. There are also investments worth JD50,000 in the UAE Farms Company and another JD50,000 in Al Shalal for Agricultural Investment. Diab added that the UAE also has an ostrich farm in Jordan valued at JD319,000 set up by the Jordan-Dubai International Capital Company.
In Morocco, he said, the Abu Dhabi Development Fund has expanded its old investment agreement in 1982 with the government to partner with the National Investment Company of Morocco, creating the Moroccan-Emirati Company for Development with $12.5m (Dh46m) of investment capital, 33.9 per cent of which was contributed by the Abu Dhabi Development Fund. The Moroccan-Emirati Company for Development invests in various sectors including manufacturing, agriculture, fisheries, metals and tourism.
Also, in Morocco, the UAE’s Al Qudra Holding Company is investing in various sectors such as farming and fisheries. Diab said that through alliances with many companies, among them the Ikhlas Group, it is launching a project for olive cultivation, in addition to two other projects – Calta Sea Food and Kona, both in the fisheries sector.
Al Qudra Holding is also going ahead with a project called Olivia for planting olive trees in Morocco, Diab added. This project is 100 per cent owned by the company, and is valued at around Dh37.186m.
Source: Emirates Business 24/7 23 May 2010
Gulf states face food crisis
The scramble by Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf states to secure strategic food supplies by buying up vast tracts of farmland in Africa and Asia won’t be enough to stave off a surge of food imports over the next decade, a Saudi bank report says.
“The era of cheap food is over,” NCB Capital, the investment arm of Saudi Arabia’s National Commercial Bank, declared in the report issued several weeks ago.
The wholesale investment in arable land in Sudan, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia and other African states won’t prevent the level of food imports of the six Gulf Cooperation Council states — Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — from rising sharply over the next decade.
The NCBC report urged the GCC states to boost domestic food production through sustainable agriculture to head off an eventual crisis caused by a dramatic surge in the global demand for food that will push prices ever upward.
It said that the Saudis at least are providing financial incentives to expand the use of new crop technologies, water management and new types of seeds that require less water.
Riyadh’s 2010 budget allocates $12.3 billion to the agriculture and water sectors, a 31 percent increase over 2009. New desalination plants are also planned.
Even so, NCBC noted, “food inflation … represents a potentially considerable social-economic risk which the authorities are poorly equipped to deal with.”
As populations expand while the amount of farmland and water supply shrinks, resource wars are expected to erupt across the Middle East and Africa in the decades ahead.
“Unchecked land-grabbing carries with it the seeds of conflict, environmental disaster, political and social change, and hunger on an unprecedented scale,” Le Monde Diplomatique warned in February.
Apart from soaring food prices, the GCC states will be further troubled by “the rising demand for biofuels and climate change,” NCBC stressed.
Changes in weather patterns will reduce food production in some of the planet’s main food-exporting states, such as the United States, Canada, Europe and Southeast Asia as well as reduce water supply.
It noted that prices for maize and similar crops have soared because of the demand for biofuels and farmers, particularly in the United States, are switching from growing wheat and rice to cultivating feedstocks.
The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization recently estimated that 75 percent of the additional 40 million tons of maize grown worldwide in 2007 was taken up by plants producing ethanol for fuel.
Food production in Africa is expected to shrink by around 20 percent over the next four decades unless major policy changes to counter these problems are initiated now, said a recent study by the International Food Policy Research Institute in Washington.
The dependence of the GGC members on food imports is already high, particularly concerning basic foodstuffs such as rice, barley and maize.
Imports accounted for 92-100 percent of consumption in the gulf, while for milk and dairy products the figure is 77 percent.
Saudi Arabia and its gulf partners turned to the large-scale purchase or long-term leasing of farmland in Africa and further afield in Pakistan and Turkey, because they failed to devote sufficient resources to agriculture in the 1970s and 1980s.
The institute estimated that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, the main buyers of African land, have acquired some 6 million acres worldwide, largely in Sudan, Pakistan and Indonesia. Other estimates are much higher.
The report said that additional purchases by the Saudi government and private investors are under way with Egypt, Ethiopia, South Africa, Kazakhstan, Australia and Brazil.
Eventually, the report pointed out, these countries will have to curtail the export of food grown on their farmland because they will have to feed their own swelling populations rather than someone else’s.
The land-buying spree by the Arab states is likely to continue as desertification worsens.
Wadid Erian, a soil expert with the Arab Center for the Study of Arid Zones and Dry Land in Cairo, said desertification is advancing swiftly “and our response needs to match the pace …
“The question we need to be asking is whether using (African) land is a sustainable, long-term solution … We expect that if climate change and desertification continue at this pace, in the next five years we won’t have enough food to supply demand.”
Source: UPI | May 27, 2010
Organic food market has been growing at a rate of 20-24%
UAE residents are becoming more health conscious and opting for a less-processed, natural diet, new research has shown. A report conducted by Research and Markets, a trade-specific data analysis company, says the organic food market has been growing at a rate of 20-24% annually. The report also notes that the global organic food market grew by 10.9% in 2007 to reach the value of USD 43.5 billion and in 2013, the market is forecast to have a value of USD 66.8 billion, an increase of 53.6% since 2007.
At present, only a small portion of the UAE’s farms grow organic produce. But this is set to change, as the government – via both the Ministry of Environment and Water and the Ministry of Health – focuses on promoting the organic movement. Reflecting the growing demand for natural food products, the environmental ministry has set the target of 3000 hectares of agricultural land to be dedicated to organic farming, while the health ministry is advocating organic food as part of a healthy diet. Industry experts say the most popular organic product within the UAE is currently baby food, while fruit, vegetables and breakfast cereals are also big sellers.
Source: Middle East Food Magazine
Food for a healthy craving
From low-fat and low-sugar frozen desserts to organic vegetables and flour for diabetics, food producers are rolling out new products to cash in on growing health consciousness in the Emirates.“When you look at the consumer data, it tells you that the consumer is looking for healthy alternatives,” says Michael Henderson, the chief operating officer of National Food Products, an Abu Dhabi company that is introducing a new line of juices featuring vitamin-rich “superfruits” such as pomegranate.
People “are much more health-conscious and they are looking for brands to bring them healthier options”.Many food manufacturers are moving into the organics sector.
IFFCO, one of the largest food makers in the region, plans to introduce new organic products to the market within six months. National Food Products recently launched a line of fresh juices with no additives.
Al Ghurair Foods, based in Dubai, has launched a high-fibre, low-calorie flour for those with diabetes, while the Saudi dairy company Almarai in 2008 introduced a fermented milk product called Trim that is aimed at helping people lose weight. At least five retailers of frozen yoghurt or low-fat, low-sugar ice cream are already operating outlets in the UAE or planning to open here this year.
Al Yasra Food, a Kuwaiti company, is investing between US$50 million (Dh183.6m) and $100m to expand its organics division in the UAE during the next five to 10 years. The growing market for healthy food products across the Middle East is expected to be worth $10.5 billion this year, data from the research company Euromonitor shows. It is projected to grow to $11.8bn by 2013.
Analysts say this market will continue to increase as food-linked disorders such as diabetes and childhood obesity become more common in the region, and consumers pay more attention to nutrition.“With troubling rates of childhood obesity in the UAE, the government is taking initiatives to change children’s eating habits at school and parents are following suit at home,” says Gayatri Bhasin, Euromonitor’s research analyst for the Middle East and Africa.
“As a result, healthy alternatives to popular treats like confectionery, ice cream and biscuits are becoming increasingly
Now, parents are opting for fruit juices instead of carbonated drinks and snack bars instead of chocolate bars for their
children and also themselves, she says.“The shift towards healthier eating will only gain momentum over the next few years, and manufacturers of impulse and indulgence products are likely to reposition their brands and offer a wider range of healthy, natural products,” Ms Bhasin says.David Edwards, the managing director of IMES Consulting Group, based in Dubai, says consumers are generally moving towards healthy eating but that the shift will not happen overnight.
“It takes time for people’s habits to change, and gradually they will,” Mr Edwards says. “And I believe that retailers will develop more space for healthier foods.”
Source: The National March 10, 2010, UAE
Many are going green despite the challenges...
Food producers in the Emirates are increasingly going green – shifting to biodegradable packaging, minimising water wastage and looking to solar energy.
Masafi, which produces drinking water, juices and snack foods, has recently introduced a biodegradable wrap as a label for its bottles and is looking at bringing to the UAE a cardboard recycling plant from the Swedish company Tetra Pak. Al Ghurair Foods has reduced the amount of waste water generated by its plant from 300 tonnes per day to 40 tonnes and is exploring packaging its oils in bottles made from recycled plastic. And IFFCO, one of the largest food producers in the region, will soon be re-engineering its factory processes in the UAE to be more environmentally friendly. The Emirates has the largest per-capita carbon footprint in the world, according to the World Wildlife Fund.
But in recent months, local retailers and governments have been increasing their efforts to go greener.In November, a proposal was submitted to Abu Dhabi authorities to ban plastic bags in shops by the middle of this year, replacing them with paper or cloth.
Planners at Masdar City, a carbon-neutral development being created on the edge of the capital, aims to have all retail products marked with information about their carbon footprints.
McDonald’s restaurants across the Middle East will follow their counterparts in North America and replace styrofoam containers with cardboard packaging in about a month. UAE residents also appear more willing than their counterparts in Canada, the UK, and China to pay a premium for green products or services, according to a survey by the Royal Sun Alliance insurance group in September. Just over one third of UAE respondents were willing to pay between 1 and 5 per cent more, while 19 per cent were willing to pay 5 to 10 per cent more for green goods or services.
Gulf News, March 10, 2010.
AL YASRA OPENS NEW OFFICE & WAREHOUSE IN DUBAI...
Alyasra's participation in 5th edition of MENOPE’08 paved way to expand our operations in UAE region. Alyasra’s premier range of organic products is made available in all leading outlets in UAE with the latest state of art technology warehousing facility in Dubai Flower Centre. We are having wide plans of expansion to focus this region as our Regional Head Quarters for Food products division. We also feel the social and industrial responsibility of being big operator in the region. Hence we are joining hands with MENOPE organizers in promoting the industry and promote the region as hub for Organic products and encourage consumers to be health conscious by consuming Organic products.
Alyasra Food Co. is part of a group of family-owned companies. It is the largest temperature-controlled Food Distributor in Kuwait & Iraq. AFC has been established since 1988. It has a market share of 79% in Kuait. It also commenced business in Iraq a few years back and has penetrated the market through both direct & indirect distribution.
Alyasra's key success factors are Sincerity; Availability of Range, Product visibility, Promotional Activity, Efficiency, Financial Capability, Information, Human Development & Focused Strategic Management. AFC is also aggressively expanding on a regional level through acquisition & new-built trend of leadership such as the launch of organics.
AFC's organic food is the region’s first truly organic foods company. All our products are 100% certified organic sourced for the best farms across Europe & the Arabian Peninsula. We provide a range that completes & adds to the already extensive range of our partners.
Organic food provides lots of antioxidants and can help our bodies to fight the harmful effects of modern living. Antioxidants help us to feel and look better by dealing with excess free radicals.
We are dedicated to provide & deliver only the best organic products to our customers, whether these are our own labels or whether they are our partner brands. AFC's organic food is an experience that engages with the customer at every point. The products & product displays, the merchandising, planograms & the dedicated nutritionist team are all designed to help the customer understand the real benefits of organics.
Our experience in organics is extensive with operational staff that brings over ten years cumulative experience in Europe & the US to the region. By doing so, AFC ensures that all aspects of lifestyle & health benefits are controlled, communicated & extended to our customers. We want our customers to love the taste & understand the health benefits of our food.
Khalid Hajjar, Regional Manager-MENA, Organics Division, Al Yasra Food Co. Dubai
Organic sales have increased significantly...
'Organic sales continue to increase because consumers are buying more organic products for home consumption rather than spending on more expensive items such as cars and TVs.' Andre Leu Chair of the Organic Federation Australia, the sector peak body stated.
'Market information from Australia, USA and Europe is showing a considerable increase in the sales of the types of organic products used to prepare meals, such as fruits, vegetables, dairy products, grains, bread and meat.' Andre said OFA Director and Convenor of the Organic Traders' and Consumers' Network, Catriona Macmillan stated, 'Our members are telling us that sales have increased significantly. While there is some evidence of a slowing in sales of some of the more expensive packaged organic products, this is more than compensated by the increase in all the other lines.'
The global recession had no impact on the world's largest organic
Source: Organic federation of Australia
Organic and low-calorie foods in particular will experience a surge in popularity...
Foods that are perceived to bring added health benefits are forecast to be among the fastest growing market trends over the next decade, according to a new report from the NPD Group.
The report, A Look into the Future of Eating, suggests that organic and low-calorie foods in particular will experience a surge in popularity as the baby boomer generation gets older.
The report's author and director of product development at NPD Ann Hanson said: "As the population ages, levels of concern regarding food and nutrition are expected to rise. For this reason, 'better for you' food options are forecasted to grow strongly over the next ten years." But even more than low-calorie and diet options, it is the organic sector which is predicted to experience to strongest growth – 41 percent over the next decade, compared to 18 percent for light/lite/diet/low-calorie labels.
|Top Food Trends Eating Behaviors Expected to Grow More Important During the Next Decade|
|Restaurant meals eaten in-home||20%|
|Light/lite/diet/low calorie labels||18%|
|Salty/savory snack foods||16%|
|Easy meals, e.g. fruit, snacks as meals, yogurt, bars, etc.||16%|
|Appetizers eaten as in-home main meals||16%|
|Leftovers as end dish foods||15%|
|Fresh as end dish foods||14%|
Source: The NPD Group, A Look into The Future of Eating, National Eating Trends®