Thousands of UAE farms to be supplied free water

Private utility Utico unveils sustainable farm support programme; to initially help 3,000 farms in Northern Emirates
Thousands of UAE farms to be supplied free water
An Emirati man checks date palms of Khalas dates in the western region of Liwa, south of Abu Dhabi. (AFP/Getty Images - for illustrative purposes only)
By Staff writer
Fri 07 Apr 2017 10:10 AM

UAE-based Utico, the Middle East’s largest private utility, has unveiled a new sustainable farm support programme, which will include supplying free water to UAE farmers, guaranteed buy-back of their produce and scientific advisory services.

In its first phase, the programme will span the Northern Emirates catering to an estimated 3,000 farms across Ras Al Khaimah, Umm Al Qwain, Ajman and Sharjah.

Utico said in a statement that the free water supply and farm support initiatives will be extended to other emirates in the second phase.

“The programme is very much in line with ensuring happiness of farmers and will contribute to the UAE’s food security initiatives,” said Dr Saif Al Ghais, director general of the Environment Protection and Development Authority (EPDA).

“The programme will address the water supply issues, and the expert advisory Utico will provide will help farmers increase production through incorporating scientific farming methods that are found to work well in arid conditions,” added Richard Menezes, managing director of Utico.

Utico said its programme will help farmers increase produce, reduce or remove subsidy on the state and increase the farmers’ income. 

Farmers will be given advice on incorporating sustainable farming techniques designed by Utico and have been implemented by the company during the past three years. Utico will work towards ensuring responsible farming by providing extensive knowledge and expertise to ensure farmers are successful and satisfied and have long-term certainty of guaranteed income.

“As in any area of life, certainty is an important part of a farmer’s outlook. The buy-back programme will be insured as well and will include deployment of farming and crop expertise from around the world like Australia, India, Europe, Thailand and the US,” Menezes said.

About 95 percent of the UAE’s food needs are imported. About 80 percent of the UAE farming comprise date cultivation with about one crop a year. 

According to Utico, there is ample scope for many crops that can add greater value with water being available.

“The overall UAE economy will improve as well as certain crops in the coming years will have potential for export in one form or other. There could also be integration of upstream and downstream segments, for instance from farm-to-food manufacturing sector leading to greater economic growth,” added Menezes.

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