Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority (ADFCA) organized on Wednesday, March 14 at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, a workshop for external stake holders in agriculture from the private sector in order to discuss the draft agricultural policy for the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.
This was in continuation to the workshop ADFCA had organized for stake holders from the public sector. The objective was to evolve an integrated public policy document for agriculture and food safety for the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, comprising detailed policies for the safety and suitability of food in addition to the wellness of animals and plants to fulfill the primary goal of the whole of the chain of food production system and sustainability of agricultural sector.
HE Rashid Mohamed Al Shariqi, Director General of ADFCA who inaugurated the event, stressed that the addition of the agriculture and animal wealth sectors to the jurisdiction of the Authority had placed on it the responsibility of achieving food safety across the food chain. "It has to have clear policies that serve its future plans and legislative and technical requirements so that all the regulations and rules it issues contribute to the successful development and sustainability of the agriculture sector in its entirety," he pointed out.
HE said: "The factors that are common to the requirements of protection and animal and plant production - such as the use of various commodities in the field like chemicals, fertilizers, pesticides, veterinary medicines and organic materials, besides the updating and ordering of priorities for scientific research in agriculture and the enhancement of the capabilities of the work force in agriculture ï¿½ constitute the core of the agricultural policy. An integrated policy for agriculture and food safety is the principal pillar of ADFCA's work in achieving the strategic objectives entrusted to it by the public policy agenda of the Government of Abu Dhabi."
He continued:"While taking into confidence our partners in the public and private sectors on the policy, we aim to stress the role of the Authority in achieving the public policy agenda of the Government of Abu Dhabi. Likewise, we also want to learn from their views and observations which will not only add value to the document but also contribute to the success of the implementation of the policy."
HE Dr. Mariam Hareb Al-Yousuf, Executive Director, Policy and Regulation, ADFCA, said the process of consultation with private sector partners in the emirate on the draft policy document for agriculture reinforced the reciprocal relationship between the Authority and its partners. "This is aimed at laying down a transparent and science-based policy that can lead to sustainability of the agricultural sector and the preservation of the country's natural resources. The policy is part of the endeavors of the Policy and Regulation sector of the Authority in association with relevant sectors to lay down farming legislations that can result in food security and bio-security while meeting the specific needs of the local community," she explained.
Dr. Al-Yousuf clarified that the work on the draft policy had been completed in three phases; the first being a comprehensive study and analysis of the legislative gap between the food and agriculture sectors in association with a global team of experts, while the second phase consisted of developing public policies for agriculture and food safety, in addition to detailed policies for food safety. In the third and last phase, detailed policies for agriculture are being evolved to be presented to the board for ratification, she added.
HE said consultations with the private sector sprang from the fact that this sector could play an effective role in successful implementation of the policy through conscious adherence to its objectives and the legislative framework that governs its execution. "The private sector has an illustrious track record in supporting government initiatives aimed at development and sustainability, which in turn create opportunities for investment and creative contributions. This, along with active participation in assessing the impact of the policy on the ground, will support the outcomes of government initiatives," she pointed out.
HE Al-Yousuf pointed out that the draft policy has been prepared based on international best practices while being sensitive to local specificities and to the agricultural reality of the country. "The document comprises the following in the sphere of agricultural production: Use of agricultural lands and water in farming and options for agricultural production and economic sustainability along with the best production choices and economic sustainability. As for plant protection and animal health, a number of policies are included, such as on-farm prevention procedures, control measures to pests and diseases prevention, regulated areas for pest and disease management, preparedness and response for emergencies and preservation of high value agricultural species. The common agricultural policies that cut across the agriculture sector significantly influencing both aspects of agricultural production plant protection and animal health, include research and development, farmers' social supports ,management of agricultural compounds appropriate and correct usage animals welfare, on-farm competencies and capabilities , , in addition to administering the application of compliance regime across all agriculture production and protection activities," she concluded.
The audience participated in a discussion with the participants expressing their views, asking questions and offering constructive interventions. They praised the draft policy document for its core ideas and priorities and stressed its importance for agriculture and its sustainability.