Under the guidance of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces and Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council, the Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development has launched a program called ‘Ziraai’ to support citizens working in the agricultural sector by providing training and marketing services, and giving loans of up to AED1 million interest-free per farmer. The program is in collaboration with Abu Dhabi Farmers’ Services Center.
His Excellency Hussein Jassim Al Nowais, Chairman of the Khalifa Fund, elaborated: “This program aims to cultivate growth in the agricultural sector by helping our farmers to improve the marketability, profitability and efficiency of their farms through cutting edge technology; for instance by switching to innovative methods that reduce water consumption.”
Under the program, farmers will be incentivized to transition from traditional to modern agricultural methods such as adopting a hydroponics system that can reduce water consumption by up to 80%. This will in turn lead to an increase in the number of productive farms, as land that was previously considered non-productive becomes more viable to farm.
He also pointed out other benefits of the program, such as reducing the negative effects of soil salt on agricultural products, and contributing to the transfer of sophisticated water management technology in the agricultural sector. In addition, there will be a reduction in electricity consumption in the agricultural sector, while an improvement in the nation’s food security would lead to a reduction in the country’s food imports.
HE Al Nowais indicated that the program will apply to agricultural land of up to 2,000 square meters, with water not exceeding a salinity of 500 ppm. Eight greenhouses will be irrigated, and a minimum contribution of not less than 5% of the farmer’s total expenses for services and facilities will be made.
The Khalifa Fund will finance applicants who fulfill all conditions, with a loan of up to AED1 million interest-free. The Fund will also provide additional facilities, and give a grace period of up to two years before repayment starts. A flexible schedule of payments will be offered, spanning up to 60 months.
Regarding the services and non-financial facilities, HE Al Nowais explained that the Fund has designed packages of services including organizing training and knowledge transfer in collaboration with Abu Dhabi Farmers’ Services Center. The specialized training courses will include accounting skills and the preparation of budgets, resource management and more. The farmers will be exempt from several types of fees from relevant authorities, in order to boost them and help their farms thrive.
Outlining the marketing services, HE Al Nowais said the Khalifa Fund strongly believes in promoting the concept of agricultural entrepreneurs, and the development of the agricultural sector will help to diversify the country’s sources of economic income, while safeguarding food security. The program includes a package of marketing facilities to help the farmers sell their produce at the best possible prices and obtain the most attractive returns through smart partnerships with a number of major retail outlets.
The facilities include exemption from registration fees applicable to other suppliers, and the farmers will receive preference in low prices. In addition, farmers will be able to collect their payments within two weeks instead of the normal 90 days, which will improve their cash flow and minimize the cost transfer from the farm to the retail outlets.
The Fund has signed a number of agreements and memoranda of understanding for marketing farm products that are funded and supported by the Khalifa Fund, covering cooperative societies, major shopping centers and others.
The agricultural program pioneered by the Khalifa Fund is the first of its kind in the country, and will provide comprehensive solutions and financing for the agricultural sector.
About Khalifa Fund
The Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development was created in June 2007 as an independent agency of the Government of Abu Dhabi, and has now amassed AED2 Billion in capital to fulfill the various requirements of entrepreneurs. The Fund has established a comprehensive program to expand entrepreneurs’ business projects, in order to cultivate an appropriate business-enabling environment and to enhance the capabilities of potential entrepreneurs.
The Fund uses a modern assistance and support services system that includes training, development, access to market intelligence and consultancy services as well as developing various marketing initiatives.
In addition, the Fund provides various financial solutions for promising enterprises that may serve the national economy in the form of programs such as Khutwa, Bedaya, Zeyada and Tasneea, which are made available to all types of SMEs.
The Khalifa Fund has also launched socio-economic initiatives such as Sougha, which aims to preserve the Emirati heritage; Al Radda, the UAE’s first program for prison inmates; and Ishraq for patients recovering from addiction at the national rehabilitation center.