Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority (ADFCA) signed a memorandum of understanding with AVRDC ï¿½ The World Vegetable Centre on Tuesday, June 14 for cooperation in research and development in agriculture.
The MoU, signed on behalf of the two organizations by HE Rashid Mohamed Al Shariqi, ADFCA Director General and Dr. Dyno Keatinge, AVRDC Director General, envisages far-reaching cooperation in diversification and improvement of cropping systems for vegetables, harvest processing, marketing and specialized research. Besides, it also includes exchange of expertise in agricultural training in general and vegetables development in particular, besides taking advantage of scientific techniques and experiences on both sides.
HE Rashid Al Shariqi said the MoU was indicative of the importance ADFCA gave to effective strategic partnerships and exchange of expertise in comprehensive and sustainable development with international bodies and research entities. "These partnerships are significant in view of ADFCA's role as the government body responsible for the safety and quality of food in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, especially in regard to imported vegetables and fruits," he pointed out.
Al Shariqi explained that ADFCA would try through this MoU to develop mutual expertise in producing vegetables in open farms as well as in green houses and in giving irrigation guidance, with special focus on types of heat and drought-tolerant vegetables, thus providing the emirate's farmers with many benefits.
Dr. Dyno Keatinge said: "The World Vegetable Center conducts vegetable research and development activities to benefit small-scale farmers and improve nutrition across the globe. The Centerï¿½s technologiesï¿½including tomato and pepper lines that can withstand heat and drought, grafting, drip irrigation, and net house and other sheltered production methodsï¿½help farmers diversify their cropping systems, spread their risk, generate more income, and produce nutritious, health-promoting vegetables for their families and communities."
He said the concept of balance and diversity extends to agriculture and economics. ï¿½Vegetables are less risk-prone to drought than staple crops, as they typically have a shorter growing time. They can maximize scarce water supplies and soil nutrients. Growing vegetables is one of the most potent means available for small-scale farmers to generate income on and off the farm. A labor-intensive activity, vegetable production creates jobs and diversifies local cropping systems. It encourages entrepreneurship in marketing fresh produce and processing the harvest, which helps develop rural infrastructure and strengthen local economies," he stressed.
"Support for agricultural research must be increased now to meet the growing demand for food without deterioration of the agricultural resource base. Vegetables have an important role to play in transforming and diversifying agriculture to safely provide food, income, and employment for the poor, foster economic growth, and improve resource conservation and environmental protection,ï¿½ said Dr. Keatinge. He added that recent trends pointed to a decrease in consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables in the Middle East region. ï¿½The key need is for balanced diets. Vegetables are our best source of the vitamins, micronutrients, and fiber the human body requires for health. They add much-needed nutritional diversity to diets. Yet vegetable consumption in most countries, developed or developing, is well below recommended minimum standards," he pointed out."Increasingly, people in the developed and developing world alike consume diets high in carbohydrates and fats. In many developing countries, more than 70% of diets now consist of just one staple. While staple crops such as rice or maize are important for food security, they donï¿½t provide much protein, vitamins, or other vital micronutrients. The emphasis on starchy staples leads to higher rates of obesityï¿½a known risk factor for cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and other chronic health problems that strain already-stretched health care systems," Dr. Keatinge concluded.