Research and Development Priorities

As the world population is forecast to reach 9.7 billion by 2050, food production will need to be increased by at least 70%, including a 50% rise in annual cereal production, to meet future demand. Concurrently, food waste and loss are on the rise. This waste now accounts for 1/3 of the global food production and is valued at 1 trillion USD

At the same time, while facing greater need, agricultural productivity is undergoing a decline in many parts of the world due to many challenges such as destruction of arable land, water scarcity, salinization, among other things most especially climate change.

In the face of these challenges, it is imperative to increase public-sector and private-sector investments in research and development on sustainable food systems under unfavourable climatic and environmental conditions to ensure future food security.

This is particularly true of the Middle East and Gulf regions which face considerable challenges to food production and agriculture. In the UAE, imports make up 90 per cent of all food consumed as food production under local conditions is very resource-intensive. Hence, it is necessary to boost research and development on sustainable agriculture.

Key Statistics

The agricultural sector’s contribution to GDP


Spending on research and development as a percentage of (of GDP)


Percentage of Food Imported


Percentage of all water used for agriculture

One area that shows a lot of promise under local conditions is controlled-environment agriculture (CEA) which is a technology-based approach toward food production

Controlled environment agriculture has the following benefits:

  • Reduces labour intensiveness
  • Frees land
  • Improves productivity
  • Reduces water consumption
  • Reduces crop loss

However, it is also resource and energy-intensive and costly to establish and run.

Across the landscape of food security research and development, 8 thematic research and development areas were identified and are as follows: