READY Resilient Agrifood Dynamism Through Evidence-Based Policies

What is READY?

Food Security is a crucial global issue that reflects the self-sufficiency of a country and the well-being of its citizens.

The University of Wollongong in Dubai, UAE University, International Center for Biosaline Agriculture, and Dubai Municipality have come together to form a collaborative research project called READY.

Ready stands for "Resilient Agrifood Dynamism Through Evidence-Based Policies", and it emphasizes the need for preparedness for the future.

The UAE Ministry of Education provides funding for the project under the Collaborative Research Program Grant 2019.

Objectives and Deliverables

The aim of this project is to deliver tools (methodologies, guidelines, and software) and create evidence-based policies that will help the UAE's food system become more resilient to future risks through improving its policy-making capacity.

Main deliverables of the project:

  • Develop an early warning system that monitors the vulnerabilities of the food system and warns decision-makers to take action.
  • Deliver evidence-based and effectively developed policy recommendations and strategies for improving resilience.
  • Create a social interaction platform to hear society`s voice and engage them in the design of policies.

Innovative Approach

Most studies in the literature focus on specific issues, but READY follows a holistic approach and generalized analysis to provide a more comprehensive picture.

Evidence-based Policy Recommendations: We use big data to bring policy recommendations that are based on solid evidence and therefore are practical, effective, and tailored to real-world needs.

Multi-actor framework: We bring together experts, policymakers, farmers, processors, and consumers to ensure diverse perspectives are considered.

Society Engagement: We believe that stakeholders and the broader society should be involved in the decision-making process of our food system. By engaging society in our discussions, i.e. by bringing "society to science", we ensure that our strategies resonate with everyone's needs.

Food Security in the UAE

Food Security is an essential topic for the UAE due to its harsh environment, limited water resources, scarcity of arable land, and increasing population.

UAE National Food Strategy

In 2018, the UAE launched its National Food Security Strategy with the aim of making the country more self-reliant in terms of its food supply. The strategy includes key objectives such as increasing local production, reducing food waste, and ensuring sustainable food sourcing.

UAE National Food Security Strategy Infographic

Vision for 2051

The UAE's long-term vision for food security, the UAE National Food Strategy 2051, which sets forth an ambitious plan to become a world-leading hub in innovation-driven food security.

UAE's Position in Global Food Security

In 2021, the UAE ranked 35th globally in overall food security score, marking a significant position in the world. However, the country is facing natural resource challenges. The same year, the UAE ranked 88th in terms of natural resources and resilience against external shocks.

Main factors affecting Food Security in the UAE

Land Constraints

6.8% of the country's total land is suitable for irrigated agriculture

Water Constraints

67% of groundwater is utilized for agriculture.

93% of the drinking and potable water is supplied by desalination.

Import Dependencies

80% of UAE's food requirements are fulfilled through imports.

Population Growth

The UAE population is expected to reach 11.5 Mil. in 2025.

READY is aligned with the UAE's food security vision

Evidence-based and effectively developed policies can help the UAE mitigate the core challenges and overcome its constraints.

Project Partners

Project Team

University of Wollongong in Dubai

Dr Ioannis Manikas

Associate Professor / Principal Investigator

Dr Balan Sundarakani

Associate Professor / Co-Principal Investigator

Dr Beshir Ali

Postdoctoral researcher

Mrs Sabreen Wahbeh

Ph.D. candidate at the University of Wollongong in Dubai (UOWD)

Ms Maha Aldhaheri

Ph.D. candidate at the University of Wollongong in Dubai (UOWD)

Baturalp Arikal

Project Consultant

UAE University

Constantinos Stathopoulos

Professor / Co-Principal Investigator

International Center for Biosaline Agriculture

Dr. Tarifa Al Zaabi

Deputy Director General / Co-Principal Investigator

Dr. Khalil Ammar

Section Head / Investigator

Dr. Hayatullah Ahmadzai

Post-doctoral fellow: Socio-economic scientist / Investigator

Arzoo Malhotra

GIS Consultant / Investigator

Dubai Municipality

Dr. Maryam Al Sallaqi

Head of Food Studies and Risk Assessment Unit / Co-Principal Invesigator