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02 December 2023

UAE strategic food stock is very low

By Staff

The UAE’s strategic food stockpile is so low that it will last for only around ten days, far below the accepted international rate of six months to one year, the Federal National Council (FNC) has said.

Concerns about the low food stockpile in the second largest Arab economy were the main topic of a debate by the FNC’s foreign affairs, planning and oil panel at its meeting on Tuesday, the Arabic language daily 'Emarat Al Youm' reported on Wednesday.

“The country’s strategic food stockpile is sufficient for only 10 days…this poses a major threat in case of emergency or a crisis that could disrupt the UAE’s food imports,” the panel said.

“The UAE currently does not have a food stockpile on par with accepted international norms, which stipulate that the stock should cover a period of six months to one year…the present supplies at all cooperative societies will last only for 10 days.”

'Emarat Al Youm' quoted Mohammed Al Rumaithi, head of the national authority for emergency and crisis control, as telling the FNC the authority had completed the preparation of a national strategy for food, drugs and water security. He said the strategy had been presented to the government, which made some remarks and requested stronger private sector participation.

“This strategy will ensure food and drugs for all people in the UAE round the year…we are also proposing the creation of a federal agency to work on achieving food security by increasing investments in farms and support local animal and fish production,” he said.

According to the panel, the UAE’s food consumption is growing by as fast as 12 per cent a year because of the high population growth. It noted that the country is still heavily reliant on farm imports despite efforts to achieve self sufficiency in some products, with such imports providing nearly 68 per cent of the country’s total food needs.

The UAE is the largest food importer in the Arab region after Saudi Arabia, with its farm bill exceeding $eight billion in 2010.

Soaring global food prices allied with high rents, weakening dollar and strong domestic demand to push inflation rates in the UAE to a record high of 12.3 per cent in 2008. It plunged to around 1.5 per cent in 2009 and was expected at that level in 2010.