Putting food on the table: The making of UAE-India food corridor

Crop (Pixabay)

Till recent past, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) imported nearly 90 per cent of its food. That figure, however, is soon likely to change. In November 2018, the country announced its National Strategy for Food Security 2051 – a long term strategy which aims to enable its fast growing population access to healthy, safe, nutritious and sufficient food at reasonable prices in all circumstances, including emergencies and crisis.

But achieving that goal is not easy. Less than five per cent of UAE’s land is cultivable and water is scarce.

Apart from enhancing sustainable technology-based local produce, developing international partnerships to diversify food sources is key to this goal.

This is where India comes into the picture.

India grows enough food for its 1.3 billion people. However, nearly 30 per cent of that food goes to waste due to lack of proper infrastructure such as storage, transportation and technology.

India also aims to be $5 trillion economy by 2024 – a hefty target amid economic downturn and a simmering bank crisis.

Read: How UAE is likely to propel India’s $5-trillion economy target

The country’s leaders have been making multiple visits to UAE and other GCC nations, armed with an action-oriented plan to divert foreign investments specific sector. The plan focus on boosting services sector contribution to $3 trillion, manufacturing to $1 trillion and agriculture to $1 trillion.

As both nations seek to sustain their economies and safeguard the future, the UAE-India Food Corridor was born.

UAE-India Food Corridor: Growing cooperation

As India seeks to reduce food wastage, UAE could help with investment in the appropriate technology. It can further purchase the food produced by the project at cheaper prices while Indian farmers will get a comparatively better price for their crops.

To propel its National Strategy for Food Security 2051, UAE aims to have a massive food reserve in India and align to expand agricultural exports.

Recent figures announced by the Indian government say that Emirati firms plan to invest up to $7 billion (25 billion AED) in India’s food sector by 2022 including $5 billion investment in food parks and similar facilities in different Indian cities.

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The proposed food parks are expected to come up in Gujarat’s Kutchh, Maharashtra’s Aurangabad and Madhya Pradesh’s Pawarkheda regions. These entities will be coordinated UAE-based Emaar Group. The remaining $2 billion will be invested in contract farming, sourcing of agro commodities and related infrastructure.

The initiative is expected to create over 200,000 jobs in India, alleviating the country’s unemployment crisis.

Between April to June 2019, India’s food processing sector received FDI inflows of Rs 2,285 crore, with most of inflow coming into food retail and cold chain segment. With further investments, this figure is expected to touch Rs 31,400 crore.

“The UAE entities have expressed their interest to invest up to US $5 billion in mega food parks, logistics and warehouse hubs, fruits and vegetable hubs in various Indian cities, which would create 200,000 jobs across India,” said Indian minister Piyush Goyal said during a recent visit to the UAE.

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