Today sees the opening in Abu Dhabi of the Global Forum for Innovations in Agriculture (GFIA), one of the most significant meetings of agricultural innovators, investors, scientists and researchers ever held.
GFIA runs from 3-5 February at ADNEC and will showcase the game-changing innovations and new technologies needed to drive the future of global agriculture.
The event is held under the patronage of HH Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister of the UAE, Minister of Presidential Affairs and Chairman of Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority ( ADFCA ), and in strategic partnership with ADFCA . The UAE’s Ministry of Environment and Water and Ministry of Presidential Affairs are official supporters. ADNOC, Al Dahra Agricultural Company and Al Foah are all strategic sponsors of GFIA.
Today’s GFIA Opening Ceremony sees Keynote Speeches from world-renowned innovators Bill Gates, co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Dr Frank Rijsberman, CEO of CGIAR, Dr Mark Post, the scientist behind the Google-funded lab burger, and Andras Forgacs, CEO of Modern Meadow and pioneer of cultured meat and leather. The Opening Ceremony will be chaired by international journalist and broadcaster Stephen Sackur.
Today at GFIA also features the GFIA Power Sessions, the world’s largest and most diverse presentation of big ideas on sustainable agriculture – a total of 52 innovators across four theatres each have just 15 minutes to demonstrate their technology or projects.
They range from a variety of technological advances in reducing water consumption and new generations of automated robotic systems for pest control to The Farmery, a growing/retail environment actually within a supermarket, and an experimental ‘sea farm’ producing seaweeds for feed and food production.
There will also be two breakout sessions: The BIG Investment Debate, looking at the most promising technologies and research for investment and how innovations can be brought to market more effectively, and The E-Agriculture Revolution, which will focus on the application of information technology in agriculture and how it will change the way we produce food, increase yields and boost profits.
“We firmly believe that Abu Dhabi is the right place for this showcase of innovative thinking on the future of sustainable agriculture. The UAE has approximately 26,000 farms operating successfully in unconventional environments of aridity and heat, and our nation is at the forefront of research and development into alternative forms of sustainable agriculture at the regional level,” said Mohamed Jalal Al Rayssi, Communication & Community Service Division Director, ADFCA .
“According to the United Nations the global population reached seven billion on 31 October 2011 – it is predicted to exceed nine billion by 2050. We need to find creative solutions to feeding the world, and many of these solutions will be on show at GFIA, either on the exhibition floor or in the conference presentations,” said Mark Beaumont, Project Director for GFIA.
“GFIA is bringing together the major players in world agriculture – suppliers, innovators, investors, policymakers, NGOs, scientists and researchers – to show how innovative ideas can solve the world’s ever increasing food needs. We believe that GFIA will be a real catalyst for change, outlining the roadmap to a more secure future in terms of food security and poverty alleviation,” continued Mr Beaumont.
Other GCC countries including Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar and Kuwait also have programmes in place to assist farmers in their effort to produce food sustainably. GFIA is engaged with these programmes and will be bringing in delegations from several of these countries.
On the final day of the event – Wednesday 5 February – delegates can sign up for a range of free technical tours and site visits to key sustainable agriculture projects in the UAE, ranging from a pilot cooling system designed to reduce the amount of water used in greenhouses (a project handled by the International Centre for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), one of GFIA’s Foundation Partners) to the wide-ranging aquaculture research being undertaken at the International Centre for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA) in Dubai.
“Today will see GFIA open with world-renowned innovators presenting their visions for an agricultural revolution, and the inspirational events of the rest of today and Days 2 and 3 will ensure that GFIA is the most important sustainable agriculture event in the world for 2014,” said Mr Beaumont.
“The kind of exchange of ideas that will take place at GFIA is vital if we are to keep a world of nine billion people free of hunger.”