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Abu Dhabi: the new vegetable oasis

Founded in 2009, ADFSC has become the driver behind the changes made in Abu Dhabi’s agriculture.

Dhafer Rashed Mohamed Al Qasemi, director of planning and development at the Abu Dhabi Farmer’s Services Center (ADFSC) explains the transformations in Abu Dhabi’s agriculture.

Around 10 years ago, government policies in Abu Dhabi began to change with the aim of farming more sustainably and protecting natural resources. Over the previous 45 years, local agriculture was encouraged by the nation’s founder, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan, who started to encourage UAE Nationals to grow. Land was granted free of charge by the government and farmers were supported in different ways. They received agricultural inputs like seeds and fertilizers, for example. As for the farms’ infrastructure, levelling, fencing and well-drilling were provided. In addition, the government created the Agricultural Department, which organized subsidies for the farmers.

ADFSC to train farmers and support logistics

Founded in 2009, ADFSC has become the driver behind the changes made in Abu Dhabi’s agriculture. As a result, it has been possible to reduce direct subsidies. Today, ADSFC trains farmers and supports the logistics and marketing for their products. In the past, considerable volumes were produced but with insufficient regard for the quality and without preserving the water resources. In recent years, though, the focus has been on how to produce high quality crops and how to produce the products that are demanded by the market.

“Today, the farmers show interest and approval of the services provided by our organization,” said Al Qasemi. Based on the market research conducted by ADFSC, an agreement has been signed with the farmers that specifies periods of delivery, quality of the product and the minimum guaranteed price. The objective is to provide market access for the right product at the right time in order to minimize the impact that market fluctuations have on farm owners. If a product achieves a higher price than the minimum guaranteed price, then ADFSC receives a 15% commission on the difference. If the market price is below the minimum guaranteed price, then ADFSC will pay the difference to the farmer. “As a result of this policy, quality has been enhanced and currently 82% of the products sold are class 1,” explains Al Qasemi.

Locally grown with a reputation for quality and consistency

Abu Dhabi Farmers’ Services Centre also operates its own pack-house facilities and manages every step in the supply chain including harvesting, quality checks, grading, packaging, storing and transportation. “In this way, the farmer can concentrate fully on planting and cultivation.” This new policy from ADFSC has also encouraged a market-driven mentality compared to the past when the government bought everything that was produced. “They have learned the benefit of harvesting and delivering at a specific time,” confirmed Al Qasemi. The reputation of quality and consistency of locally produced crops has been steadily rising in recent years. “Indeed, locally harvested produce has become a brand”. The competitive advantage of vegetables grown in Abu Dhabi is that each local product can be traced to the farm where it was grown. “Thus, food safety is guaranteed.”

Sustainable farming with 110 Global G.A.P. certified farmers

The preservation of natural resources is also an ongoing task for ADFSC. Certification by Global G.A.P. in food safety and sustainable farm practices has already been given to 110 Abu Dhabi farms. ADFSC has also started cooperating with the Swiss institute FIBIL, experts in organic food, to set up organic projects Abu Dhabi. Local production has achieved a market share of between 15 and 20% depending on the crop, the main varieties produced being cucumbers, tomatoes and capsicums. ADFSC sells the products directly to wholesalers and retailers, with about 50% of the volume delivered to Dubai, the UAE’s distribution hub.

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‘Local Harvest’ supply chain on display at SIAL ME 2015

Abu Dhabi Farmers’ Services Centre (ADFSC) – through its retail brand Local Harvest - is using the international food industry event SIAL ME 2015 – being held December 7-9 in Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, UAE – as a platform to reassure purchasers and other industry players about the quality and safety of ADFSC’s plant and animal products.

Food safety and quality are important subjects not just in the home, but also for retailers, wholesalers and suppliers alike, says the Abu Dhabi Farmers’ Services Centre (ADFSC).

The centre – through its retail brand Local Harvest – is using the international food industry event SIAL ME 2015 – being held December 7-9 in Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, UAE – as a platform to reassure purchasers and other industry players about the quality and safety of ADFSC’s plant and animal products.

“This global B2B event is a perfect opportunity for Abu Dhabi Farmers’ Services Centre to demonstrate how the agriculture sector has developed over the past five years and how the centre has improved the effectiveness and efficiency of the production chain,” said ADFSC’s communications section manager Ahmed Al Suwaidi.

The event theme ‘Trust throughout the Local Harvest Supply Chain’ promises to give visitors an insight into the modern and innovative agricultural techniques that have been adopted to promote local produce in the emirate.    

Delivery of Local Harvest produce begins with the production planning stage where customer requirements are agreed and new crops introduced. The final approved production plan is distributed to farmers in Abu Dhabi, via the ADFSC’s team, which also provides technical assistance to ensure farmers are correctly using water, fertiliser and other farm inputs.

“Local Harvest sells only the highest quality, safe produce. Our team of technical and quality specialists constantly monitor and advise on all aspects of production, farm practices, selection and packing. These quality assurance measures ensure our produce meets or exceeds the expectations of UAE consumers,” Al Suwaidi said.

Abu Dhabi Farmers’ Services Centre produce is available at retail shops in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain, through most major hypermarkets and supermarkets. The centre provides technical and operational support services to farmers, helping them grow and market their produce.

ADFSC was established in 2009 to bring strategic agricultural reform to Abu Dhabi, especially by introducing and encouraging the conservation of natural resources. The organization was formed under Law No. (4) 2009, issued by HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, to work in partnership with the Abu Dhabi Government in order to implement reform in farming practices.

Visit www.adfsc.ae for more information on Abu Dhabi Farmers’ Services Centre.