Agriculture in the UAE
Lying in the heart of the world's arid zone, the UAE has little rainfall and one would expect it to be a barren place. Barren places there certainly are, but the process of desertification has very largely been arrested in the country. It is now possible to see forests, fields of grass and wheat where once there were only desert sands and winds. The UAE has a long tradition of agriculture in its oases where crops have been grown for 5000 years. Underground water was chandelled to palm groves and small fields and the technique is still used today. Since the formation of the UAE in 1971, this small scale traditional farming has been complemented by investment that has seen thousands of hectares being cultivated. In the past 25 years, the country's population has increased ten-fold and agricultural production has kept pace with this growth. The country is self-sufficient in salad crops and poultry for much of the year and even exports crops to markets in Europe. Most of the UAE's agricultural production comes from four areas: from in and around Al Ain, from a narrow but fertile strip along the east coast, from the oasis of Dhaid east of Sharjah and from the gravel plains in Ras al Khaimah. According to figures from the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, agricultural production stands at over Dh 2 billion per year. An average crop season yields over 600,000 tons of crops such as tomatoes, cucumbers, aubergines, lettuce, cabbage and animal feed. Studies have shown that much of the country's soil can be cultivated provided there is water and as a result, there has been an extensive programme to drill water wells. The government will prepare land for local farmers which they are then given free along with seeds, machinery and advice on pest control. There is also government-funded research on different crops to see how they adapt to the local climate. In an attempt to conserve and use as much water as possible in as many ways as...
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