'Women farmers are inherently more passionate'

Atul Chopra, founder and CEO of agritech platform FreshOnTable, on how female farmers are leading the way in the sustainability stake

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Sushmita Bose

Published: Fri 10 Jun 2022, 9:57 PM

“Farming is not new to our nation. Sheikh Zayed, the founder of the nation, had this great saying: ‘Give me agriculture and I will give you civilisation.’

Although our initial studies had made out a strong case of existing farms and new ones in the horizon, we would often encounter expressions of disbelief even from people born here.

Yes, there was a time when, with the hyper active growth and urbanisation, the UAE had started importing almost 90 per cent of its requirements for food. Our responsible and conscious leadership soon realised the importance of food security.

The most amplified example of its importance came during the pandemic when even the most developed nations’ supermarkets witnessed empty shelves due to the disruptions in supply chain.

Local farming is now an integral part of the UAE’s future vision. Consequently, we now see a huge growth in farms adapting all kind of farming methods: vertical, horizontal, greenhouses alongside aquaculture and hydroponics.

Technology today is an enabler and, notwithstanding the climatic challenges, you can grow anything anywhere. Fish farming in Dubai’s backyard is an epic example of how you can simulate the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans side by side to harvest some of the best varieties of fish like salmon and hamachi right here!

As part of our sustainability mission, we like to work and encourage women farmers as we believe they are inherently more passionate. And their consciousness towards environment and sustainability is a common binding ethos.

Also, realise it’s not manual work anymore — most of it is adopting and adapting farm tech in which the women are way ahead from the men.

Our slogan of ‘buy local sell local’ to help the local economy is now at the forefront of sustainability and the food security mission. We have taken the transparency to the level of giving a real-time view of carbon emissions saved when buying through our platform. Reducing food waste by using freshly harvested produce are all steps towards UAE’s net zero mission.

Overall, farmers here are different from elsewhere, and far more conscious of the local limitations and do every bit to optimise and contribute.”

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