Despite some debate over the carbon-footprint of locally grown food when using desalinated water, it is widely accepted that growing your own food locally is better and greener than shipping it in from all corners of the world. Therefore, revelations that the modest organic farming movement in the United Arab Emirates is on the rise is definitely good news.
According to statistics from the Ministry of Environment and Water, the total area of organic greenhouse farms reached 2,196 acres in 2010, up from just 110 acres in 2007. Whilst the growth is small, it is a step in the right direction in a country reluctant to reduce its dependency on oil to desalinate water or reduce its waste.
It also means that local farmers are tapping into the growing organic movement that is blooming the Gulf states and organic supermarkets don’t have to rely on imported organic goods. For example, the amount of organic produce grown in greenhouses in the United Arab Emirate reached 5,268 tonnes in 2010 which is a big increase on the 264 tonnes grown in 2007. Those local organic stores championing better and healthier food now have no excuse for not stocking local organic produce.
Becky Balderstone, owner of Ripe (previously known as Bumble Box), which delivers organic produce boxes straight-to-your-door told Gulf News that she had seen a increase in organic farming in the UAE. She added that she now sources vegetables for her boxes from two organic farms in Abu Dhabi.
“Supermarkets never used to supply the amount of organic, local vegetables that they do now, it’s incredible what’s available,” she told Gulf News. “Farmers start planting in September and by mid-October you will be able to see pumpkins, leeks, peppers and all sorts. It’s not just cucumbers and onions any more.”
Greenhouse organic farming is believed to save water, a precious resource in the water-short Middle East, by reducing evaporation due to the heat and allows crops to be better monitored and protected from pests. Organic agriculture is also widely embraced as it minimizes environmental degradation and is considered to be healthier as organic produce doesn’t contain pesticides or chemical residues.
:: Image via thebittenword.com/flickr.
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