Cutting edge businesses, start-ups, researchers, scientists and entrepreneurs of the UAE are being encouraged to present their game-changing agricultural innovations to an influential audience who have the ability to take their solutions to the next level and help tackle food security.
The Global Forum for Innovations in Agriculture (GFIA) is the world’s influential event for the future of sustainable agriculture. The two-day event returns to Abu Dhabi in March 2017 and the Call for Innovations is now open for anyone who believes they can help make a difference to the way in which farmers and growers work and produce food in the MENA region.
From pioneering entrepreneurs to established businesses, more than 300 innovators have presented their solutions and technologies on stage in front of thousands of investors, food producers, retailers, government delegations, scientists and NGOs since the launch of GFIA in 2014.
Facing water scarcity supply and limited availability of fertile land, the Middle East heavily relies on food imported from abroad and the UAE, Egypt as well as Saudi Arabia are among the top fifteen global importers of food, according to a 2015 World Trade Organisation report.
While The Global Food Security Index, developed by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) in partnership with DuPont, indicates that the MENA region made improvements in food affordability, availability, quality and safety between 2014 and 2015, the progressing impacts of climate change will pose new challenges to the region with its soaring population.
According to Alpen Capital’s 2013 GCC Food Industry Report, the region will require 49.1 million tonnes of food per year by the end of 2017 with the UAE leading as the largest consumer at 1,486kg per capita annually.
To address this demand, the private sector in partnership with governments should be actively seeking innovative solutions that tackle food security, nutrition and distribution challenges.
“We’re seeking applications from budding entrepreneurs, innovators and practically anyone who has an idea they think can challenge conventional methods of agricultural farming,” said Nicola Davison, GFIA Event Director.
“We’re especially encouraging those from Abu Dhabi and the wider UAE community to come forward. Now is the time to share your ideas and innovations that can help farmers improve productivity in our region in a sustainable way and help to counter global hunger through pioneering developments in sustainable agriculture.”
All entries should be made online at www.innovationsinagriculture.com before the 31August 2016 deadline, and will be judged by a network of international partners including Anterra Capital, McKinsey, the University of Wageningen, CGIAR and the University of Arizona.
The programme for next year’s event will cover the entire agricultural spectrum, with a particularly strong focus on themes most relevant to the MENA region including climate-smart agriculture, disease and pest management, salt water agriculture, water management, ICT solutions and organic agriculture.
New features to the show include an expanded livestock area, a start-up pavilion to help emerging ag-tech companies meet potential investors, an AgriFood Leaders Forum and a Demo Zone where exhibitors will give live and practical demonstrations of their products and systems.
Speakers from the 2016 edition included His Excellency Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, His Excellency Rashed Mohammed Khalfan Al Shariqi from Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority, Aidan Cotter from the Irish Food Board, Mamadou Biteye from the Rockefeller Foundation in Kenya, and Haydar Alsahtout from the Arabian Shrimp Company in Saudi Arabia.
“Earlier this year, more than 6,000 visitors from 96 countries descended upon Abu Dhabi to take part in dozens of presentations and panel discussions uniquely designed to tackle world hunger and food security in the face of climate change and resource scarcity,” added Davison.
“We saw more than 80 game-changing innovations for agriculture presented on stage and many of these innovators have met investors, science partners and technology buyers to take their innovations to the next level.
“This year, we plan to present even more solutions and technologies that have the ability to influence the way in which food is produced. We have to collaborate if we are to feed 9 billion people by 2050 while facing the challenges caused by changing climate”