The UAE government is investing Dh2.5 billion to extend additional water networks to agricultural farms for easy distribution of treated water.
The network will help increase cultivated areas and enhance the sustainability of the agricultural sector, Suhail bin Mohammed Al Mazrouei, Minister of Energy and Infrastructure, told the Federal National Council (FNC).
Responding to a question from an FNC member about the increase in electricity cost on citizens’ farms, Al Mazrouei, who is also the Chairman of the board of directors of the Federal Water and Electricity Authority (FEWA), said the new strategy approved in this regard is based on water subsidies and removed electricity subsidies. This provides farm owners with abundant water so that their agricultural products will be of high quality and provide sustainable solutions to food security for the UAE.
“We are at the beginning of a shift towards rationalisation and governance of the agricultural sector, which is so vital to our water security,” he explained.
“The government has taken measures with the provision of a reduction in other fees paid by farmers that reached 50 per cent while exempting citizens from paying more fees on electricity and water. Citizens who paid these additional fees will get their money back.”
The minister noted that the cost of a gallon of desalinated water is more than 3 and-a-half fils, and that the water was being provided to the farmers through FEWA at a fil and a-half per gallon.
“When we go by the calculation, we find that the cost of electricity has increased from Dh800 to Dh1,000, but in return, the farmers get water support, which may reach Dh9,000 on average,” said Al Mazrouei.
FNC member Saeed Rashid Al Abedy earlier told the council that the increasing cost of electricity and water was among the major challenges farm owners have faced for a long time. This expense has prompted dozens of them to abandon cultivation of seasonal crops (food crops) directly related to food security and turned to secondary agriculture by cultivating perennials such as palm and dates.