UAE – UAE plans to expand land under wheat plantation from 400 hectares to 1900 hectares in the Sharjah desert by 2023, a plan that was originally targeted to be attained by 2025 as the Emirate’s push towards food security.
According to Zawya, the move is part of a project in Mleiha farm that commenced last year using desalinated water for irrigation, as the disruption of war and pandemic heightened concern over the UAE’s lack of arable land.
According to the original plan for the project, the 400-hectare farm was phase 1 of the project which has already achieved a milestone and yielded over 200 tonnes of high-quality wheat in March 2023.
Further, the plan was to double the farm size by 2024 as part of phase 2 and make it to a 1,900-hectare green oasis by 2025 (phase 3).
However, the Sharjah Ruler, His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammed Al Qasimi, has directed the authorities concerned to merge the second and third phases in a bid to have a positive impact on the country’s economy, reducing its dependence on imports.
The project aims to produce 15,200 tonnes of wheat, which is the amount consumed in Sharjah in one year, and subsequently replace imported wheat.
According to Post Dubai forecasts UAE, total wheat consumption in MY 2022/23 is set to increase by 9% to reach 1.750 MMT owing to the increase in economic and population growth despite that the country imports about 90% of its food.
However, recently, the UAE has set ambitious targets for food security as the country makes efforts towards self-sufficiency.
In March, Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri, UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment (MoCCE), said the country is aiming to secure 50 percent of some basic food requirements from local farms and producers by the end of this year, hoping to increase the target to 100 percent by 2030.
In addition, the Mleiha farm project farm is equipped with state-of-the-art technology, which includes soil sensors as well as satellites that perform thermal imaging of the site. The sensors can measure the quantity of water in the soil to avoid wastage.
The farm also has an on-site weather station that can predict temperature, wind speed, and humidity for up to 48 hours. If rain is forecast, the farm cuts down on irrigation
Sheikh Sultan had also announced that laboratory and field experiments are currently being conducted to produce the world’s finest wheat, which will be called ‘Sharjah-1’.
In addition, to ensure the smooth processing and distribution of the chemical-free wheat, authorities in Sharjah have signed a contract with Al Ain Mills for milling the local wheat.
The Sharjah Cooperative Society has also been granted the contract to sell and market the wheat, becoming the official distributor of the locally-grown produce.