By Parag Deulgaonkar
Crops will be grown keeping the UAE market in mind, says Indian official
India and the UAE are reportedly working on creating a “farm-to-port” special economic zone to meet the latter’s food security interests.
In a joint statement issued during the visit of Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed to India in January, the two countries agreed that food security remains an area of high priority for the two sides.
The statement stated that the Indian side welcomed proposal from the UAE for establishing food security parks, including through creation of high quality food processing infrastructure, integrated cold chain, value addition and preserving technology, packaging of food products and marketing.
The Times of India quoted Amar Sinha, secretary, ministry of external affairs, as saying that the initiative will be similar to a special economic zone but in the style of a corporatised farm, where crops are grown keeping the specific UAE market in mind, with dedicated logistics infrastructure all the way to the port.
“The concept has been accepted by both governments. The changing food security laws in India may not apply to the produce from these special food zones. If successful, it would create a whole new sector for agro-industries,” he said.
Last month, Alpen Capital said the Gulf countries were susceptible to global food price shocks due to high import dependency.
The UAE has, in fact, developed a comprehensive plan to secure food supply, which includes investments in farmlands across Namibia, South Africa, Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, Sudan and Egypt and improving domestic productivity by using new technologies.
However, poor security and political risks affected some of these projects with the UAE now shifting its focus to safer havens such as Eastern Europe, Australia, and North and South America, the consultancy said.