UAE’s Future Food Security Minister Visits New Zealand

New Zealand and the United Arab Emirates could learn a lot from each other when it comes to sustainable resource management and food production. This was the message from the UAE Minister of State for Future Food Security Her Excellency Mariam al Mehairi during her visit to New Zealand last week.

Minister Al Mehairi visited the capital city, Wellington, Nelson, and Auckland, as a guest of G2G Know-How, to study New Zealand’s world-leading expertise in areas such as aquaculture, food science and production. Her Excellency also visited an Auckland primary school to see the successful Garden to Table initiative, which teaches children how to grow, harvest and prepare fresh, seasonal food. The learnings and examples of best practice from the tour will be used to help form and further innovate the UAE’s food security policy.

As global food demand rises and the effects of climate change are felt, Minister Al Mehairi says the UAE needs to be ready and needs to ensure they have food security not just now but in the future.

Globally recognised as a world leader in food production, New Zealand technology and expertise is already helping to achieve this vision. Through a long-standing G2G Know-How programme, Environment Agency Abu Dhabi is trialling the Crop Calculator, a software product developed by Plant and Food Research, a New Zealand Government-owned research institute, which estimates the optimal water needs of specific crops.

“The UAE is a great trading partner with New Zealand. We produce great food, we produce the technology around great food and we can help them [the United Arab Emirates] produce great food,” says Lesley Kennedy, Group CEO of Maven International, a New Zealand consultancy familiar with the Gulf region.

The visit comes against a backdrop of solid two‐way trade between the UAE and New Zealand. Trade has grown rapidly, with New Zealand’s total exports (goods and services) to the UAE growing from 2016‐2017 from NZD 749 million (1.8 million AED) to NZD 1.1 billion (AED 2.687 billion), an increase of 47%, with UAE exports to New Zealand also growing from NZD 1.1 billion to NZD 2 billion (AED 4.8 billion) in the same period.