Khalifa Fund to support agricultural sector
Abu Dhabi, September 3, 2013
Abu Dhabi-based Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development has launched a programme to support citizens working in the agricultural sector.
The ‘Zirai’ programme aims to provide training and marketing services, and giving loans of up to Dh1 million ($272,181) interest-free per farmer.
The programme was announced under the guidance of Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces and Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council, in collaboration with Abu Dhabi Farmers’ Services Center.
Hussein Jassim Al Nowais, chairman of the Khalifa Fund, said: “This programme aims to cultivate growth in the agricultural sector by helping our farmers to improve the marketability, profitability and efficiency of their farms through cutting edge technology; for instance by switching to innovative methods that reduce water consumption.”
Under the programme, farmers will be incentivised to transition from traditional to modern agricultural methods such as adopting a hydroponics system that can reduce water consumption by up to 80 per cent. This will in turn lead to an increase in the number of productive farms, as land that was previously considered non-productive becomes more viable to farm.
Al Nowais also pointed out other benefits of the programme, such as reducing the negative effects of soil salt on agricultural products, and contributing to the transfer of sophisticated water management technology in the agricultural sector.
In addition, there will be a reduction in electricity consumption in the agricultural sector, while an improvement in the nation’s food security would lead to a reduction in the country's food imports, he said.
The fund will also provide additional facilities, and give a grace period of up to two years before repayment starts. A flexible schedule of payments will be offered, spanning up to 60 months.
The specialised training courses for the farmers will include accounting skills, preparation of budgets and resource management. The farmers will be exempt from several types of fees from relevant authorities, in order to boost them and help their farms thrive.
The programme also includes a package of marketing facilities to help the farmers sell their produce at the best possible prices and obtain the most attractive returns through smart partnerships with a number of major retail outlets. - TradeArabia News Service