Taming the desert with “agricultural technology”

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The Gulf countries, including the UAE, suffer from common barriers in the agricultural sector, such as the severe shortage of renewable freshwater resources, the harsh climate and the limited fertile natural lands, which are challenges facing the production of sufficient food to meet the needs of the population. to provide “Agriculture” is to balance the natural equation, tame the desert, to find sustainable solutions for the development of agriculture, and to provide a safe haven to enable all citizens and residents to have safe, adequate and healthy food at all times at acceptable prices, including emergencies and crises in the face of the many challenges facing the world.

Agricultural innovations in the country have diversified to improve the sustainability of the agricultural sector and achieve food security, and the UAE recently announced a series of incentive packages in the agricultural technology sector, in order to improve business and help stimulate agriculture, and the country has also encouraged the establishment of farms and constructive agricultural projects with the latest methods and methods that in It provided much support and provided suitable land, equipment, water, seed and fertilizer to make this process successful and improve the utilization of all available resources , and supports agricultural technologies and research that supports food security with the aim of adapting them as large-scale projects, so that by 2051 the UAE will be the best worldwide in the global food security index.

Abu Dhabi’s recent announcement of the Innovation Platform for Desert Agriculture Development is a wonderful opportunity to accelerate the adoption of climate-adaptable technologies, groundbreaking innovations and knowledge to achieve sustainability in desert agriculture. partner countries.

farm management

In order not to restrict agricultural technologies to commercial farms, some private agencies and companies in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi have worked to manage civic farms using modern agricultural techniques, such as the Abu Dhabi Agricultural and Food Safety Authority, which has worked to establish pilot farms. and model farms to inform farmers about best agricultural technologies and practices, and national companies also played This plays an important role in supporting the spread of agricultural technologies.

Dr. Abdel Moneim Al Marzouki, Managing Director and Board Member of Elite Agro, the Emirati company specializing in agricultural construction, explained that there are four ways Elite Agro works to support food security in Abu Dhabi, namely improving the efficiency of its operations , targeting relevant markets, and achieving economies of scale and investment in research and development.

He said: Regarding the target of the relevant market, the company’s sales team is working to open new markets and so far manage 19 farms from civilian farms in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, in addition to marketing its products and private sales.

to support

And because the area of ​​land planted with date palms currently covers about two thirds of the agricultural land area in the country, while its production value reaches about 60% of the total value of agricultural products, the UAE is interested in developing advanced agricultural technologies to support basic pillar of food security, so palm trees have taken over Researchers are interested in developing its cultivation and reducing pests that infect it.

Dr. Abdel Wahab Zayed, Secretary-General of the Khalifa Award for Palm and Agricultural Innovation, emphasized that in the context of supporting the award’s national efforts to extend the sustainability of palm trees over fifteen years, and in the Given the scientific importance of technical applications in our professional lives, whether in the field of artificial intelligence or the Internet of Things, more than 332 participants from different countries of the world competed in the category of agricultural innovations in the award, which presented many innovations that will serve the agricultural sector in general and the palm cultivation and date sector from 2017, including the design of palm and date machines and devices, and the design and construction of a smart electronic machine for palm pollination using The Internet of things, the production of electronic traps around the red palm calendar, the early detection technology eye for the presence of the red palm weevil by applying artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things, the creation of an underground porous irrigation system for palm irrigation and papermaking of palm leaves and many more.

plant tissue

The Plant Tissue Culture Laboratory in the Al Foah area of ​​Al Ain, affiliated with the United Arab Emirates University, is considered one of the largest regional and world laboratories for commercial palm propagation, with the aim of promoting agricultural development in general. achieve and carry care. of palm trees in particular, due to its high nutritional and cultural value in the UAE. The laboratory produces between 40 and 50 thousand seedlings annually, which are marketed through the marketing department and through the university’s website and international and local exhibitions. These seedlings are exported to destinations outside the country such as Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Thailand, India, Saudi Arabia and the Sultanate of Oman.

The laboratory works on the production of high quality advanced tissue palms using the “organogenesis” technology, which is one of the best scientific techniques for the production of tissue palms, in addition to the fact that the laboratory in collaboration with the “Khalifa Center for Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering “to conduct a set of scientific research that serves the UAE community in the field of palm cultivation through the production of new palm calendula-resistant tissue palm cuttings and the production of high salt content and drought tolerant palm cuttings .

pore irrigation

The innovations that won the Khalifa Award for Date Palm and Agricultural Innovation varied during its sessions, and the most important of these innovations is the porous irrigation system. , which takes water through pores, when the water pressure inside the pipe is sufficient to press it. out, and it is a system based on a very simple principle, an ecological system and achieves a continuous and uniform flow along the length of the pipe through the pores on its surface, and accordingly a porous pipe system has been tested for underground irrigation to reduce water consumption, and also to provide the appropriate amount of water for irrigation of palm trees, and with direct irrigation of the roots of palm trees helped their growth to an unlimited depth within the soil, as well as their development and increase of the size of Tests on palm trees reduced the percentage of irrigation water by 45% to 50%, A higher yield was achieved by about 5-7% of the total production, and accordingly this system provides the basic requirements for the growth of palm trees and the reduction of evaporation.

One of the pioneering innovations in reducing water wastage in agriculture is the technology offered by the leading Dutch company Groasis. This technology has provided a triple advantage by reducing the cost of rehabilitating degraded countries again by 90%, and the reduction of water use by more than 90%, in addition to Increased plant survival rate by 90%.

This water-saving environmental technology is used in 42 countries around the world, including the UAE, and has achieved great success in it. This technology consists of five steps, which is to increase the penetration of water into the soil, and then wells for plants while maintaining the integrity of the capillary system of the roots, and the use of root fungi to support the root system and replace it with fertilizer, then use a smart pot to provide a healthy microclimate and provide water to trees and to grow vegetables without irrigation, then protect them from herbivores.

red palm calender

Since the rise of the red palm weevil was recorded in the UAE in 1986, as is the case with most Gulf countries, where this invasive pest has affected borders and countries, and threatens food security, farms and the sustainability of palm tree growth, until the in the mid-nineties more than 10 thousand trees fell all over the world.In the Arabian Peninsula, after decades of disappointing results, the pheromone traps did not meet the desired expectations, so that agricultural innovation became a reliable destination, and the Compass of Sustainability is on track for it in the Khalifa Award for Date Palm and Agricultural Innovation in the “Pioneering and Advanced Innovations” category, and one of the key innovations that has contributed to reducing this danger to a great extent: the palm guard, where the Emirati Dr. Abdullah Al-Junaibi was able to invent the first double early warning and detection system by detecting the larvae of the red palm calender “from the age of two years” by smelling the affected part in the palm. , and the sound of caterpillars During chewing and gnawing with artificial intelligence technology.

The patented “palm screen” relies on the instantaneous wireless network monitoring system for one million palm trees in one server, to ensure that the farm gets rid of this unbridled pest, due to its negative economic and environmental consequences on the date palm sector. Al-Junaibi, winner of the Khalifa International Award for Date Palm and Agricultural Innovation in the fourteenth session of 2022, said among the other benefits of the palm holder is the device works alone or within a wireless network, and monitoring and early wireless warning by instant messaging, except that it is a practical, lightweight and low-end device. It is cost effective, works through sustainable energy, and is suitable for all types of palms and the rest of the trees affected by the pest (including oil-producing trees, coconuts, ornamental trees, and others).

Nakheel is an advanced Emirati solution developed by Platform, a startup developed by a group of young Arab engineers with experience, for the early detection of the presence of red palm weevils in date palms using artificial intelligence technology, whereby layers energy Internet of Things technology is used to transmit palm data.After being received by specially developed sensors, it has come to advanced research and studies in collaboration with specialists from agricultural research universities and a number of experts in various fields, in addition to implementation of tests in palm farms in Liwa and Ras Al Khaimah.

Then the company adapted artificial intelligence to enable it early on to predict the presence of the red palm weevil in palm trees, and this is followed by sending alerts to the farmer through a dedicated application on the phone.The date of the first occurrence of infestation in each palm, and in this way the farmer is fully aware of the activities and locations of palm infestations as soon as they occur.

light emission

Abu Dhabi witnessed a qualitative agricultural experience using light emission technology, which depends on the method of vertical cultivation without soil or the use of agricultural pesticides, and the time for harvesting the crop by a large percentage shortens, in addition to its high quality without changing its nutritional properties, and at the same time this technology is considered a friendly. The aim is to introduce the concept of intensive and highly efficient protected agriculture to the current traditional farming system, which will contribute to the achievement of self-sufficiency by increasing vegetables, equal to local consumption in Now and exports in the future.

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