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Analysis of Agriculture in the United Arab Emirates

Table of Contents

  • Agriculture in the United Arab Emirates
  • Agricultural Imports and Exports of UAE
  • Imports
  • Al Dahra, United Arab Emirates
  • Al Dahra Al Ain Branch
  • Al Dahra UAE Farms
  • Al Dahra Dairy and Animal Production
  • Al Dahra Trading Forage
  • Agriculture and fishing
  • References

Agriculture in the United Arab Emirates

Most of the UAE’s cultivated land is taken up by date palms, which in the early 1990s numbered about 4 million. They are cultivated in the arc of small oases that constitute the Al Liwa Oasis. Both federal and emirate governments provide incentives to farmers. For example, the government offers a 50 percent subsidy on fertilizers, seeds, and pesticides. It also provides loans for machinery and technical assistance (Al-Deeb & Enan, 2010). The emirates have forty-one agricultural extension units as well as several experimental farms and agricultural research stations. The number of farmers rose from about 4,000 in the early 1970s to 18,265 in 1988.

Lack of arable land, intense heat, periodic locust swarms, and limited water supplies are the main obstacles to agriculture. The drive to increase the area under cultivation has resulted in the rapid depletion of underground aquifers, resulting in precipitous drops in water tables and serious increases in soil and water salinity in some areas. As a result, several farms have been forced to cease production. Despite the creation in 1983 of a federal authority to control drilling for water, development pressures in the 1980s and 1990s increased the exploitation of underground water supplies.

Between 1979 and 1985, agricultural production increased sixfold. Nevertheless, the UAE imported about 70 percent of its food requirements in the early 1990s. The major vegetable crops, supplying nearly all the country’s needs during the season, are tomatoes, cabbage, eggplant, squash, and cauliflower. Ras al-Khaimah produces most of the country’s vegetables. In addition to dates, the major fruit crops are citrus and mangoes. A vegetable canning facility in Al Ain has a processing capacity of 120 tons per day.

Poultry farms provided 70 percent of local requirements for eggs and 45 percent of poultry meat needed in 1989. Local dairies produced more than 73,000 tons of milk in 1991, meeting 92 percent of domestic demand.

Considerable revenues have been devoted to forestation, public landscaping, and parks. Trees and shrubs are distributed free to schools, government offices, and residents. Afforestation companies receive contracts to plant plots in the range of 200 to 300 hectares. The goals are to improve the appearance of public places as well as to prevent the desertification process in vulnerable agricultural areas.

Lying in the heart of the world’s arid zone, the UAE has little rainfall and one would expect it to be a barren place. Barren places there certainly are, but the process of desertification has very largely been arrested in the country. It is now possible to see forests, fields of grass and wheat where once there were only desert sands and winds. The UAE has a long tradition of agriculture in its oases where crops have been grown for 5000 years. Underground water was chandelled to palm groves and small fields and the technique is still used today.

Since the formation of the UAE in 1971, this small scale traditional farming has been complemented by investment that has seen thousands of hectares being cultivated. In the past 25 years, the country’s population has increased ten-fold and agricultural production has kept pace with this growth. The country is self-sufficient in salad crops and poultry for much of the year and even exports crops to markets in Europe.

Most of the UAE’s agricultural production comes from four areas: from in and around Al Ain, from a narrow but fertile strip along the east coast, from the oasis of Dhaid east of Sharjah and from the gravel plains in Ras al Khaimah. According to figures from the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, agricultural production stands at over Dh 2 billion per year. An average crop season yields over 600,000 tons of crops such as tomatoes, cucumbers, aubergines, lettuce, cabbage and animal feed. Studies have shown that much of the country’s soil can be cultivated provided there is water and as a result, there has been an extensive programme to drill water wells. The government will prepare land for local farmers which they are then given free along with seeds, machinery and advice on pest control.

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