DUBAI – Exploring the Middle East and North Africa’s pathway to food security, AgraME – the region’s most advanced agriculture event – officially concluded yesterday at the Dubai World Trade Centre. Officially inaugurated by His Excellency Mohammed Mousa Alameeri, Assistant Under-Secretary for the Food Diversity Sector at the UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MoCCE), AgraME explored topics such as sustainability, aquaculture, biodiversity, and smart farming.
Delivering the conference keynote on an opening day, His Excellency pointed out that ongoing efforts contributed to the UAE’s leading position in the MENA region on the Economist Impact’s Global Food Security Index 2022, compared to the third place in 2021. “The country ranks 23rd globally, advancing 12 places on last year,” he said.
Alameeri also noted that employing modern technologies is crucial to enhance food security by increasing production capabilities and ensuring its sustainability. “Therefore, organizing specialized conferences and exhibitions provides important platforms to showcase the latest innovative specialized solutions in the sector and promote opportunities to benefit from and leverage in an optimal manner. I was pleased to witness a rich agenda dealing with vital topics, such as aquaculture, controlled-environment agriculture, vertical farming, and greenhouses.”
Other leading experts that took to the stage included Juan Carlos Motamayor, the Head of NEOM’s Food Sector; Pierre Broun, NEOM’s Director of Agriculture – Food, and Henry Gordon-Smith, CEO of Agritecture and a world-renowned agricultural expert. Meanwhile, Erika Parente, Director of Farming as a Service at Cultivat’d, led discussions on animal feed and saving food miles, with impactful insights from Gabriel Zarafonitis, President of Farm Anywhere.
“We saw a number of really insightful sessions take place on engaging youth in the agriculture and aquaculture industries and celebrating women in agriculture,” said Brent Crosbie, Exhibition Director of AgraME. “This year, we also welcome NEOM as our ‘Future of Food Partner’, so our visitors had the chance to explore the role technology will play in the transformation of global food systems as envisioned by the NEOM Food Sector and its various initiatives.
“We also put an increased focus on sustainability, and with innovative companies such as Sustainable Planet taking part, industry visitors were able to witness the whole gamut of innovation that’s not only happening regionally, but across the globe.”
More than 4,000 local and international industry professionals met in Dubai to showcase their products and solutions aimed at achieving self-reliance in food production. The event was also co-presented alongside AgroFarm and three other key vertical event platforms: AquaME, AgraME Fresh, and the newly launched HortiME, a dedicated exhibition area and conference stream that represents the first vertical farming event in the Middle East, which addressed critical challenges around the arid nature of the land and the technologies and processes which are advancing agricultural processes in the region.
One of the exhibitors driving innovation within sustainable food production is Sustainable Planet, whose aim is to create sustainable and climate-friendly food sources with plant-based proteins such as water lentils. Speaking from the show, Sven Kaufmann, CEO, of Sustainable Planet, said that with the global population growing at a rapid pace, now is the time to start looking at innovative alternatives to ensure future food security.
“There will be 10 billion people globally in 2050, equating to 50 to 70 percent more food being required,” he said. “Currently, animal protein is the primary protein source with more than 90 percent of all animal feed being soybean-based, there is a crucial need to increase soybean cultivation – an impossible task as there is insufficient arable land.
“Industrial soybean production dramatically impacts the planet, equal to meat. Moreover, excess consumption of soybeans is detrimental to human health. We predominantly use water lentils for our products, which not only produce 10-15 times more protein per hectare than soybeans, but, in optimal conditions, do not need arable land, reproduce every 24 hours, 95 percent of water used is recycled, and the process is climate positive, producing 300kg of CO2e per hectare a day.”
The event also welcomed key sponsors Abu Dhabi’s AlDhara, world leaders in innovative food solutions and optimized supply chains, and Canada’s Cultivat’d, renowned agtech brokers and experts in indoor farm technology.
AgraME is returning on 9-10 October 2023 at the Dubai World Trade Centre and is free to attend for industry professionals. For more information, please visit: www.agramiddleeast.com