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Wednesday, October 4, 2023

How the UAE is using apps and new tech to help farmers grow healthy crops in the desert


An app to detect crop diseases and an electronic platform to teach farmers innovative techniques are some of the ways local institutions are using new technologies to improve the efficiency of farming in the UAE.

Already one of the foremost players in food safety research in the UAE, the International Center for Biosalt Agriculture (ICBA) has been using technology to make services more accessible.

ICBA Director General Dr Tarifa AlZaabi explained how the app can help farmers. “The app, called Dr. Nabat, was created with the support of local partners in Egypt, Tunisia and the UAE,” she said. “[It] Designed to help small farmers and extension specialists detect crop diseases at an early stage, thereby minimizing yield loss and increasing income. It can identify 18 different common diseases affecting tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers. “

According to Dr Tarifa, an electronic platform also provides dedicated guidance to farmers. “The platform currently has five courses, which were created with the support of donors and partners, including the Abu Dhabi Environment Authority,” she said. “The courses range from advanced courses for professionals and experts to intermediate courses for students and beginners in land management, crop diversification, genetics, climate change modeling and adaptation.”

research frontier

ICBA has been impacting agriculture by experimenting with growing crops under prevailing weather and soil conditions in the UAE. Last year, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, visited the institution in person.

“For more than two decades, our Center has been at the forefront of research and development of nature-based solutions that help conserve land and water resources and reduce the environmental footprint of agrifood systems,” said Dr Tarifa. “We have implemented a range of initiatives to advance agricultural science, promote sustainable agriculture and environmental protection, transfer knowledge and technology, and develop individual and institutional capacity.”

One of ICBA’s most important works is the study of samphire, a salt-loving plant. The plant grows in salt water and has a natural salty taste, which means it can be used as an additive to different foods. Containing potassium, calcium, and other nutrients in addition to sodium and chlorine, this plant produces better quality, more natural salt. In 2022, the center will receive a special Khalifa International Award for dates and agricultural innovations, and will be featured at Floriade Expo 2022 in the Netherlands for its work on salicornia.


ICBA’s work has contributed significantly to the UAE’s journey in a very important year for the UAE. “The theme of the Year of Sustainability is Today for Tomorrow, which is very close to our mission,” Dr Tarifa said. “In fact, our slogan is tomorrow’s agriculture.”

The center has a comprehensive program to promote and raise awareness of national initiatives. “We also work with governments and other entities on several initiatives to promote sustainable agriculture and inform the public on how to minimize our environmental footprint,” she said.

Copyright © 2022 Khaleej Times. all rights reserved. Courtesy of SyndiGate Media Inc. (Syndicate Information).


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