THE MENA REGION
FOOD SECURITY SYMPOSIUM
Due to heavy dependence on food imports and increasing water scarcity, the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA) is considered to be one of the most food insecure regions in the world and climate change is projected to cause more disruption.
Innovation and technology has a key role to play in driving food security. How can we accelerate technology-based food production and supply chains in the region? What new technologies and innovations have the biggest potential for sustainable food production in the region? Where are we now on local farmers adopting new, sustainable technologies?
The Symposium will bring together policymakers, industry leaders, entrepreneurs, scientists, academics and innovators to examine their roles in the future of the region’s food security.
The MENA Region Food Security Symposium is free to attend and seats in each session are allocated on a first-come first-served basis.
DAY ONE: MONDAY 9 MARCH
10:30 – 11:00 Opening ceremony
11:00 – 12:00 Official opening and tour of the exhibition
12:00 – 12:15 Keynote address
12:15 – 13:00 Opening panel: Accelerating technology-based food production and
supply chains for food security and sustainability
• As the urgency for food security in the region increases and arable land and water grows scarcer, what new approaches are needed to dramatically scale up high impact technologies and solutions for more secure and sustainable food production systems and supply chains?
• In an agriculture sector where most farms are quite small and land and water are set to become increasingly scarce, how do we optimize technology use and sustainable practices?
13:00 – 13:45 UAE’s strategy and pioneering projects in the region
13:45 – 14:15 Break
14:15 – 15:00 Deep dive: Smart water use in food production
As water grows even scarcer in the region and with agriculture accounting for around 80 per cent of all water usage in the region, it’s critical we act now to save water.
• What new technologies and innovations have the biggest potential for sustainable water use in food production? How will these new systems plug into the industry now and in the future? What partners and investment are needed to make a big leap forwards and fast track water-smart food production?
• From vertical farming, hydroponics, advanced irrigation systems, salt-tolerant crops, treated wastewater, drones will hear perspectives on innovations to reduce water use.
15:00 – 15:15 Fireside chat: Turning a vision into reality
15:15 – 16:00 Food Waste: Integrating digital technologies for smarter, safer, more sustainable supply chains
• How are digital tools enabling us to solve some of the cold chain’s biggest challenges in the region?
• What breakthroughs are being made to make solutions even smarter? How will Internet of things (IoT), artificial intelligence and machine learning change the game for supply chains?
• How are start-ups responding to consumer demands for transparency and quality and building smarter supply chains for the marketplace? How can their solutions help drive momentum across the food industry?
• How are the tech giants shaping the sector?
Day 2 – Tuesday 10 March 2020
10:30 – 10:45 Opening keynote
10:45 – 11:30 Building financing for the region’s agtech ecosystem
Whilst the agtech community is growing in the region and just in the last year Abu Dhabi government has committed $272 million to developing the sector, the private sector has a critical role to play in its growth. This session will explore how we can foster growth of investment in agtech and create a thriving industry in the Middle East.
• What does the ecosystem for agtech entrepreneurs and startups look like and what is needed to make a giant leap forwards? Review of accelerator programmes, investors, advisors, supporters, collaborators etc in the region.
• How can we increase financing from the region’s venture capital firms, corporate investors and family offices in order to drive the pace of innovation?
• What are the most exciting agtech startups and innovators in the region? Who are ‘ones to watch’?
• What’s the role of R&D in developing the agtech sector?
11:30 – 12:00 Break
12:00 – 12:45 The blue bioeconomy: boosting the sustainable use of renewable aquatic resources
The blue bioeconomy is emerging as an exciting area of innovation based on the sustainable and smart use of renewable aquatic natural resources including for food, feed and energy.
• What are the trends and innovations in the blue bioeconomy with potential in the Middle East? How can we maximize the use of aquatic bioresources for the future of food and feed production in the region?
• What partnerships and collaborations are emerging to enable the creation of successful new innovations, operating models and solutions?
• What needs to be done in terms of policy and regulation, funding, value chain, science and technology to create value and ensure growth of the blue bioeconomy in the Middle East?
12:45 – 13:30 The growing need for feed
As the population grows and as food consumption patterns change from cereal based to protein rich, there is a growing demand for animal products in the region. What we feed our livestock and fish is key to sustainable food security.
• What exciting new innovations in sustainable feed solutions offer the best opportunity in the Middle East from insects, algae or methane-digesting bacteria or animal feed additives such as amino acids?
• How can we accelerate progress on sustainable animal feed solutions through greater collaboration in the supply chain, from producers and manufacturers to innovators and feed companies?
13:30 – 14:00 Break
14:00 – 14:45 Where are we now on local farmers adopting new, sustainable technologies?
Most of the region’s farms are small and medium scale enterprises where technology has huge potential to increase productivity.
• How do we get local farmers the innovations they need to run viable businesses, whilst producing safe, nutritious food without damaging our natural resources?
• What are the barriers to technology adoption for small and medium-scale farmers in the region?
• How is agtech – from precision agriculture and robotics to indoor farming technology and bio-based crop protection – transforming how food is being produced and the farmers and who grow it? Review of key sectors including fruit and vegetable crops, honey production, dates farming and animal
14:45 – 15:30 GFIA Innovation Awards Ceremony
15:30 – 15:45 Closing remarks