UAE looks abroad for food security

Gulf News | July 09, 2008

By Suzanne Fenton, Staff Reporter

Dubai: The UAE is actively looking at acquiring farmland in Vietnam, Cambodia, Africa and South America in an effort to ensure the availability of food stocks, according to the UAE Minister of Economy.

Sultan Bin Saeed Al Mansouri said that different opportunities are being explored in these countries to stabilise the availability of certain agricultural products in the UAE.

"We discussed this thoroughly under the government's plan for the UAE, with Sudan, Egypt, countries in the Far East and some Arab countries, which have agricultural lands. This is part of our strategic investment in general," Al Mansouri said.

The minister was speaking on Tuesday during a media tour of the Union Cooperative Society in Al Awir and Carrefour in Deira City Centre.

He toured the supermarkets to check certain commodity prices are still at 2007 levels, in line with recent agreements signed between the Ministry of Economy and Carrefour, Union Cooperative and LuLu Hypermarket Group.

The supermarkets had agreed to freeze prices of some basic food items at last year's level as part of government efforts to limit the effect of inflation of consumers.

"These are the ones [supermarkets] who we signed an agreement with and we follow up and make sure they are enforcing this [prices] from their side," the minister said.

Al Mansouri also predicted that inflation, estimated to be at 11.1 per cent last year, will go down towards the end of this year. The minister said that there were "many factors" contributing to inflation worldwide, including oil prices, political situations, exchange rates and agricultural production.

Mohammad Bin Abdul Aziz Al Shehi, undersecretary of the ministry, told Gulf News that the Consumer Price Index will be released "very shortly" but gave no date.

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