Under the Patronage of H. H. Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister of the UAE, Minister of Presidential Affairs and Chairman of Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority

MENA Food Production 2030

This FREE TO ATTEND conference brought together over 200 leading stakeholders from across the agrifood value chain to present latest innovations and future perspectives for secure, sustainable and profitable food production systems. Where available links to speaker presentations are listed below.

Conference Programme – 20 March

10:30 -11:00 Opening ceremony

  • Welcome: H.E. Dr. Thani Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment in the UAE
  • Keynote: H.E. Khadim Abdullah Aldarei, Vice Chairman, Al Dahra.
  • Keynote: H.E. Memli Krasniqi, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Development in the Government of the Republic of Kosovo.

11:30 – 12:00 Leaders forum
Leaders from across agriculture will kick off the dialogue by sharing their visions, progress to date and lessons learned for building secure, sustainable and profitable food production systems for 2030 and beyond.

Moderator: Dr. Hans van der Beek, Agricultural Counsellor for GCC Countries, Embassy of the Kingdom of Netherlands

  • H.E. Rashid Mohammed Khalfan Al Shariqi, Director General, Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority
  • H.E. Khalifa Al Ali, Managing Director, Food Security Centre Abu Dhabi
  • Louis Jacobus Smit, CEO (Business Planning and Development Sector), Jenaan Investment LLC.
  • Eng Ahmed R. Al Ballaa, CEO, National Aquaculture Group (NAQUA).
  • Djamal Djouhri, CEO, Al Ghurair Resources.

12:00 – 13:00 Date palm production
Dates are one of the most important crops in the region and this session will present the challenges and opportunities facing producers as well as activities and future developments by government, research and business.

The importance of date palm production in the UAE: current situation and future developments
Dr. Majid Sultan Al Qassimi, Director, Animal Health & Development Department, Ministry of Climate Change and Environment

Date palm sustainability in Abu Dhabi Emirate’s Farms: Implementation of Date Palm Pest Management Programme.
Khalid Mohamed Omer, Crop Protection Unit Head, Abu Dhabi Farmer’s Services Center

Activities and plans in Saudi Arabia date palm production.
Prof. Dr. Abdulrahman Saad Al-Dawood, Professor of Economic Entomology, Economic Entomology Research Unit (EERU), Department of Plant Protection College of Food and Agriculture, King Saud University

Activities and plans in Oman’s date palm production.
Dr. Saif bin Rashid Al Shaqsi, Director General of Million Date Palm Plantation Project, Oman

Challenges and opportunities for date palm producers in the region.
Dr. Mohammed Ali Bob, Farms Manager, Al Mohamadia

Redpalm weevil control, as never seen before.
Yosef Ouhlous, Business Unit Manager Middle East and Africa, Koppert Biological Systems

13:00 – 14:00 Climate-resilient crop production
Climate change is disrupting agriculture with changing and extreme weather patterns resulting in damage to crops, exacerbating the spread of disease and water scarcity. This session will explore approaches to maintain and increase crop productivity to 2030 and beyond.

Moderator: Dr Christof Walter, Christof Walter Consulting

Precision irrigation for smarter decisions.
André Laperrière, Executive Director, Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN)

New crops for new climates – challenges of salinity and climate-resilience.
Dr. Ismahane Elouafi, Director General, International Center of Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA)

Enhancing Food Security in MENA Region under the Conditions of Climate Change.
Aly Abousabaa, Director General, International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA)

The UAE Research Program For Rain Enhancement Science – impact and progress to date.
Alya Al Mazroui, Program Manager – The UAE Research Program For Rain Enhancement Science, National Center of Meteorology & Seismology (NCMS), The Ministry Of Presidential Affairs

14:00 – 16:00 Special session on Innovations and Technologies to drive Agriculture in Saudi Arabia

Saudi-Dutch Cooperation in Agro-Food                                                                                                                 Dr. Hans van der Beek, Agricultural Counsellor for GCC Countries, Embassy of the Kingdom of Netherlands.

Developing a sustainable agriculture sector in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Dr. Suliman Ali Alkhateeb, Consultant, General Director of Plant Production and Agriculture Extension, Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

16:00 – 17:30 The “Blue Bio-Economy”: Opening up new horizons for the seas to support innovtive, sustainable and other high-value biomarine products and industries in the GCC region 
The term “Blue Bio-Economy” is relatively new, but is quickly gaining importance around the world due to the potential benefits from using under-utilized, renewable, abundant biological marine resources. The “Blue Bio-Economy” innovative industries incorporates the traditional fisheries industry, it also includes new and developing industries such as aquaculture, Algae culture and marine bio-products (pharmaceutical, nutraceutical, biomaterials, agrichemicals).

This session addresses the latest innovations in this sector with a panel discussion that will explore the barriers we need to tackle, and things that need to be done in order to fully realize the opportunities for growth of the “Blue Bio-Economy” in the region.

Moderator: Haydar H. Al Sahtout, Director, Arabian Shrimp Co., Chairman, the Fisheries Strategic Development Plan steering committee, Saudi Arabia, Former CEO, Saudi Fisheries Co

The Blue Bio Economy concept, trends and status, and the Strategic Potentials of “The Blue Bio-Economy” Industries in the GCC Region
Haydar H. Al Sahtout

Latest updates and innovation in algae industry
Vítor Verdelho Vieira, President, European Algae Biomass Association, Board member and Chief Development Officer, A4F-AlgaFuel and President, Necton

Latest updates and innovation in the aquaculture industry
Eng Ahmed R. Al Ballaa, CEO, National Aquaculture Group (NAQUA), Chairman, Saudi Aquaculture Society, Board Member, National Fisheries Development program, Saudi Arabia


  • Dawood AlYahyai, Director of Aquaculture Development, Ministry of Agriculture & Fisheries, Oman
  • Dr Hans van der Beek, Agricultural Counsellor for GCC Countries, Embassy of the Kingdom of Netherlands
  • Eng. Mariam Mohammed Saeed Hareb Al Mheiri, Assistant Undersecretary for the Water Resources and Nature Conservation Affairs Departments, Ministry of Climate Change and Environment in the UAE

Conference Programme – 21 March

10:30 – 11:30 How public and private sector investments and collaborations drive innovations in agriculture

The Netherlands approach
Dr Hans van der Beek, Agricultural Counsellor for GCC Countries, Embassy of the Kingdom of Netherlands

Financing Agricultural Innovations: The US Model
Quintin Gray, Former Agriculture Counselor, U.S. Consulate in the UAE

The role of angel and venture capital in agtech 
Roger Royse, Founder, Silicon Valley AgTech & Royse Law Firm

Why is AgriTech suddenly a VC play 
Erich Sieber,  Managing Director, Bluefields Associates DMCC

11:30 – 12:30  Backing small farmers for big business
Around the world millions of smallholder farmers are gradually integrating into commercial value chains. This session will explore solutions to create inclusive value chains for the improvement of smallholder farming incomes in the MENA region.

Moderator: André Laperrière, Executive Director, Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN)

Small farmers and big business: an unlikely marriage? 
Dr Christof Walter, Christof Walter Associates

Integrating smallholder farmers in the commercial value chain for sustainable food systems
David Neven, Enterprise Development Officer, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

Mohammed Shahid Parwez, Islamic Development Bank

12:30 – 13:30 The future of indoor horticulture

First practical results from Watersaving Greenhouse
Mike Vermeij, CEO, Bom Group

Is highly productive and water efficient horticultural production in the Middle East feasible?
Dr. Ir. Jouke Campen International project manager, Wageningen UR – Greenhouse Horticulture

High productivity agriculture in warm and hot climate conditions
Angel Barranco, President, Tecnova

City Farming: Growing on a net
Rene van Haeff, Managing Director, Light4Food

How can you increase tomato yields in greenhouses in the GCC
Li Shushan, Chief Horticulturist, Beijing Kingpeng International Hi-Tech Corporation

13:30 – 14:00 Panel Discussion: Sustainability of solar irrigation in the MENA region organised by International Water Management Institute (IWMI)

Water scarcity and its unequal distribution in space and time are key challenges facing the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. The use of renewable energy in agriculture, and in particular solar technology, has captured the attention of practitioners, farmers, and donor. However, the development of solar technology in agriculture in MENA is relatively piecemeal with limited exchange and transfer of knowledge. In addition many issues need to be addressed concerning unequal resources and access to solar irrigation technology and the sustainability of ground water resources. This panel discussion will explore these challenges and address scaling up solar power irrigation in an equitable and sustainable way.

Alvar Closas, Acting Office Head, IWMI MENA Region

Mohamed Fayez, Co-founder, Technology and innovation engineer, KarmSolar

Lisa Bossenbroek, Lecturer, Gender & Natural Resources, Ecole de Gouvernance et d’Economie

Rana El-Guindy, Senior Specialst – Energy Economist, Regional Center for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (RCREEE)

14:00 – 14:45 Future-proofing animal health
This session will provide delegates with an opportunity to hear best practice from experts and industry leaders and discuss the outlook for animal health in view of disease threats and antimicrobial resistance.

Reducing the need for and use of antimicrobials on the farm
Dr. Hetty van Beers-Schreurs, Managing Director, The Netherlands Veterinary Medicines Authority (SDa)

Solutions for securing livestock health
Dr Salama Al Muhairi, Director of Veterinary Laboratories Department, Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority (ADFCA)

The challenge for modern agriculture, and how can seaweed address it?
Hervé Balusson, CEO and Founder, OLMIX Group

14:45 – 15:30 Animal production sustainability: perspective and challenges
Join innovators and leaders from industry to explore how animal production can sustainably contribute to food security in the region.

Moderator: André Laperrière, Executive Director, Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN)

Driving sustainability in the poultry industry 
Dr. Rashid Dafalla, CEO, Emirates Modern Poultry Co. (Al Rawdah)

Photonics and food – how physics can help the dairy industry advance
Dr Cather Simpson, Founding Scientist, Engender Technologies

Prof. David Morrison, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research & Innovation), Murdoch University

15:30 – 16:00    Closing Ceremony

Conclusion: opportunities and challenges and the contribution of open data
André Laperrière, Executive Director, Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN)

Potato potential unleashed through tiny true seeds: Highly recommended security crop triples yield and halves pesticide use. More with less.
Hein Kruyt, CEO, Solynta

Final remarks and road ahead to GFIA Europe in the Netherlands 
Dr Hans van der Beek, Agricultural Counsellor for GCC Countries, Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands


PDFs-Highlights of the 2016 programme…

Animal production


Crop production


Get up to date on the latest on animal nutrition to optimize profit with speakers from Trouw Nutrition and FAO.With the alarming increase in antibiotics resistance, learn about next generation technology to ensure antimicrobial defense.Learn about the ICT solutions and apps for increasing efficiency the Royal Agricultural University in the UK and new companies such as Farmflo from Ireland and Farminal in Egypt.Understand the latest approaches for increasing resource and water efficiency from exciting new companies such as LiquidStrip and established agribusinesses ARASCO and the Global Agenda for Sustainable Livestock.Learn how sustainability has transformed a whole country’s dairy and livestock industry with an address from Aidan Cotter, CEO, Bord Bia – Irish Food Board. Find out about the ‘fishless’ feeds that are making aquaculture more sustainable. From trees to insects and GM plants, learn about the future of aquaculture nutrition.Join the DG of WorldFish, the CEO of National Aquaculture Group in Saudi Arabia and the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries Wealth, Oman to explore strategies for developing sustainable (and profitable)aquaculture.Understand new market opportunities for aquaponicsemerging from a large-scale European project.Learn how collaborations in science and business have transformed the quality and quantity of shrimp production in Bangladesh.Hear about how farmers in developing countries are increasing their productivity and income thanks to faster-growing fish. Hear how cutting-edge science, computer modeling and space-based observations are empowering drought management in the MENA region.Get the latest on an international collaboration of researchers, farmers and technology companies that is using high-tech bee backpacks to improve the health of the honeybee.Hear from exciting start-ups such as Bosch Deepfield Robotics who are revolutionizing the tasks of plant breeders with their robotic system.Keep up to date with the role of ICT through a panel discussion with industry leaders and short presentations on innovations.Biological solutions are becoming increasingly important for pest and disease management. Understand how to achieve greater yields and nutritional value through organic innovations from innovators from Saudi Arabia, the Netherlands and Australia. Join experts from agriculture powerhouses of the USA and Netherlands to explore innovative agro-logistics to reduce post-harvest losses.Explore technologies that will increase resource efficiency in water-scarce regions such as smart leak detection, sun-driven air conditioning and dew collecting greenhouses.Hear from agribusiness stakeholders including SAI Platform, Bayer CropScience and one of Europe’s top co-operatives on new approaches that are enabling farmers to adopt responsible and sustainable production practices.Learn how hi-tech 3D printing and sensor technologies are transforming horticulture production for smallholders.Keep up with the trend for city and indoor farming. Hear anout innovations in container farming, lighting anf growing materials from speakers from the Asia, Europe and the Middle East.


2015: Opening Ceremony comments
HRH The Prince of Wales

2015: Opening Ceremony comments
John Kerry, US Secretary of State

2014: Opening Ceremony comments
Bill Gates, Founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation


Held in strategic partnership with the Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority, GFIA works with over 40 globally significant partners committed to using GFIA as a catalyst for change.


  • Strategic partner
  • Associate Sponsor
  • Endorsed by
  • Co-Located
  • Silver Sponsor
  • Food Security Innovation Session Sponsor
  • ApiARAB Expo Platinum Sponsor
  • ApiARAB Expo Gold Sponsor
  • Cassava Innovation Challenge Partner
  • Knowledge partner
  • Supporting partner
  • Destination partner
  • Key Stakeholders
  • Official media partners
  • Livestock Fodder Official Sponsor
  • Honey Competition Sponsor
  • Official Indoor Agriculture sponsor
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  • Research partner
  • Supported by