Under the patronage of HH Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nayhan, Deputy Prime Minister of the UAE, Minister of Presidential Affairs, and Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority (ADFCA), Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority hosted the Global Forum for Innovations in Agriculture (GFIA), from 3-5 February 2014 at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Centre.
Held with official support from the UAE�s Ministry of Environment and Water and Ministry of Presidential Affairs, the events sought to highlight the sustainable agriculture initiatives and innovations being planned and deployed across the world. The multi-faceted event included an exhibition with over 125 exhibitors plus an 1800-delegate conference comprising keynote sessions, panel discussions, an African Ministerial discussion and 150 innovation presentations by 180 speakers.
The Sheikh Zayed Award for Pioneering Innovations in Agriculture was announced on behalf of HH Sheikh Mansour by HE Rashid Ahmed bin Fahad, UAE Minister of Environment and Water. He delivered the inaugural address on behalf of the patron at the beginning of the event.
The Global Forum for Innovations in Agriculture (GFIA), held under the theme �Driving Innovation for an Agricultural Revolution,� is the world�s largest showcase of game-changing innovations in sustainable agriculture and will bring together an unprecedented array of world-renowned innovators, investors, food producers, retailers, governments, scientists, NGOs and agricultural organisations.
In his inaugural speech, HH Sheikh Mansour, delivered on his behalf by the Minister of Environment and Water, said: "I am pleased to take part in the inaugural of the Global Forum for Innovations in Agriculture. We in the UAE are among the countries in the region that stand in the vanguard of those supporting agricultural innovations and scientific research. This country has had a unique experience in this area. In spite of the hard climatic conditions and water scarcity, the country has succeeded, thanks to political will and the adoption of modern farming techniques, in developing a sustainable farming sector that protects the environment and contributes to meeting some of the food requirements of the country."
He continued, saying: "As part of our efforts to enhance international coordination and in appreciation of the scientists and experts in evolving food security policies, we are announcing today the Sheikh Zayed Prize for Pioneering Innovation in Agriculture. This is to encourage scientists and researchers to raise the bar on the standards of research in the area of agriculture, especially in the practical or applied aspects of it. We hope this forum will become the platform for pioneering a new global farming model, paving the way for a sustainable agricultural revolution that contributes to increased production, conserves natural resources and reduce the harmful impact on the environment."
The Global Forum for Innovations in Agriculture (GFIA) closed with a Ministerial Discussion that pointed the way forward for agricultural innovation and poverty reduction in Africa. GFIA�s Closing Ceremony, entitled �The Africa Innovation Initiative,� was chaired by HE Dr Rashid Ahmed Bin Fahad, UAE Minister of Environment and Water and featured African Ministers from Ghana and Zambia, alongside ministerial representatives from Kenya, Tanzania and Angola. The Ceremony was moderated by Sunil Sanghvi, a Director of McKinsey & Company.
HE Robert Kenneth Sichinga, Minister of Agriculture, Zambia, acknowledged and gave thanks to the UAE government for hosting GFIA. �Agriculture is at the core of our nation�s 2030 vision, and technological innovation is crucial to accelerating agricultural development in Zambia. We are here to boost assistance and cooperation,� said HE Mr Sichinga.
�We need to drive the youth into agriculture, and speed up the transition from subsistence to commercial farming. We want to partner with nations like the UAE,� said HE Rashid Pelpuo, Minister of State, Private Sector Development and Public Private Partnerships, Ghana.
For Ms Anna Onyango, Agriculture Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, Kenya, GFIA underlined its status as the most important platform for arid agriculture. �Events like GFIA are crucial for forming meaningful networks and partnerships. Two-thirds of Kenya�s land is arid, which is why GFIA and its focus on arid agriculture is of such vital importance,� said Ms Onyango.
�Tanzania is working hand in hand with the private sector to drive agricultural transformation,� said Dr Mary Shetto, Officer in Charge of Ministerial Delivery Unit, Tanzania, while for the Angolan Representative from the Department of Trade Affairs, the priority for his nation was to improve local agricultural capabilities: �Angola is currently the most expensive country in the world. We need to grow our local agricultural industry and reduce our reliance on imports.�
Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority (ADFCA) showcased at the event the project for water sensors aimed at detecting the quantity of water needed by agricultural plants. The sensors measure continuously the amount of moisture in the soil to determine the amount of water required.