The United Arab Emirates (UAE) signed a deal with Uganda to establish one of the world’s only agricultural free zones in an attempt to enhance food security in the Emirates.
The 2,500-hectare free zone will allow private companies from the UAE to invest in agricultural production and development in Uganda.
Mariam Al Mehairi, Minister for Food Security, says this will also act as a launch pad for further investment into East and Central Africa. “There is a lot of potential to be unlocked in that area,” she said.
According to the National, the agreement was signed at Agriscape, a two-day exhibition in Abu Dhabi that convenes dozens of producers, suppliers and investors from across the globe. The deal will promote agribusiness between the two countries and lead to an increase in UAE imports of Ugandan crops and beef.
The UAE imports about 90 per cent of its food. Talks began with the Ugandan government last year after the Gulfood exhibition in Dubai in February.
Since then, about 14 Emirati companies have expressed interest in investing in the African country.
Currently only 5 per cent of African land has been utilised for agriculture and the consumers are also coming from Africa.
Food security has topped agendas all over the world as temperatures rise, but it is perhaps most pressing in Africa, where hunger is widespread and conflict and political instability deter investors.
With the continent’s population expected to grow by 1.3 billion by 2050, farming yields will need to increase.