Farm to plate is the buzzword for many who are concerned about the miles a food item travels before it lands on their plate. This ties in with many aspects of the way we approach food; its freshness, environmental credentials and price. Consumers everywhere are preferring to be local and buy local.
Making the switch to locally produced food minimises the carbon footprint caused by transportation. (Carbon footprint is the amount of carbon dioxide or other carbon compounds released into the atmosphere as a result of the activities of a particular individual, organisation, or community) and food transportation contributes a huge amount of carbon emissions worldwide.
In that context, Abu Dhabi is doing a remarkable job of expanding its food produce base. With an extensive network of farms producing fruits and vegetables, consumers in Abu Dhabi are spoilt for choice.
Local production is also important for creating food security of the UAE as, at present, the country imports more than 85 per cent of its food.
The Abu Dhabi Farmers Service Centre (ADFSC) has developed the brand ‘Local Harvest' that is sourced from a network of 1,250 farms across the emirate. The centre has set up three convenient packing centres that help farmers get their produce to consumers within 24 hours of being harvested.
The centre sells ‘Local Harvest' through a network of its souqs spread across the emirate and prominent retail chains. Unpacked local produce is also marketed through these channels.
In 2011, the centre marketed 20 million kilograms of produce, says a centre spokesman.
The figure is expected to increase to 40 million kilograms during 2013-2014 season. These efforts reduce food miles and boost the earning potential of farmers who benefit from the new marketing channels, which they would not have explored otherwise, the spokesman said.
The centre started selling local meat and chicken through its own souqs across the emirate in 2012 , and through major retail chains in 2013. The products include local fresh sheep, goats, calves, and poultry sourced directly from Abu Dhabi farms. Supplying other types of white meat, including rabbit meat, quail, and pigeons raised in Abu Dhabi farms, is also on the cards.
Consumers also have the confidence that a number of participating farms are certified by Global G.A.P., an international certification body that works with independent auditors to ensure that farms follow good farming practices.
The centre has also invested in advanced quality assurance systems to ensure that all products sold are safe and meet the highest quality expectations of the UAE consumer, the spokesman said.
For information on branded local produce: http://www.localharvest.ae.
Source: Gulf News