In an effort to not only strengthen local agriculture in Abu Dhabi but also reduce water consumption and enhance food security, the Khalifa Fund approved funding of 130 farms using hydroponic farming method as part of the Zaarie Program. The Zaarie Program was originally launched to better support Abu Dhabi farmers with the best technology and training available. Already ten farms funded by the Khalifa Fund will be ready to export vegetables to local markets in the upcoming months.
Hydroponic techniques are necessary given the unique conditions Emirates farmers must contend with. They not only have to combat extreme weather condition, but also sand problems. Hydroponic farming provides farmers with a viable way to grow food at a reduced rate of water consumption. Instead of soil, farmers use a nutrient-dense water solution to grow their plants. Some farmers have said that this reduces the amount of water needed to grow food by as much as 90%. Because less water is used, Abu Dhabi will require less food imports, which will improve food security.
In addition to funding the construction for the infrastructure as well as necessary technology to produce hydroponic crops, the Khalifa Fund has worked with the Abu Dhabi Farmers’ Center to adopt standards and specifications that guarantee that the crops produced meet international standards. The Khalifa Fund and Farmers’ Center has also organized a number of training sessions and informational meetings for farmers to ensure compliance and better understanding by Abu Dhabi farmers.
The Khalifa Fund was created to foster investment in local businesses in Abu Dhabi, and its Chairman of the Board is Hussain al Nowais. Ahmed Khalfan Al Romaithi serves as the head of the Zaarie Program in Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development.