The Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE) announced that it is executing a research project on the use of AI in modern agriculture with the help of alternative service recruits.
MOCCAE made the announcement during a visit by Pilot Staff Major General Sheikh Ahmed bin Tahnoun bin Mohammed Al Nahyan, Chairman of the National and Reserve Service Authority, and His Excellency Dr Abdullah Belhaif Al Nuaimi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, to the project site at the Ministry’s Agricultural Research Center in Dibba.
The project aligns with MOCCAE’s strategy to enhance the UAE’s food security through the adoption of the latest technologies as well as youth engagement.
Pilot Staff Major General Al Nahyan said: “The National and Reserve Service Authority aims to reinforce patriotism and national identity among young Emiratis through equipping them with the right set of skills to defend the country first and foremost, and to support social work through the alternative service. The project launched by MOCCAE will help set our young recruits on the right track to become future entrepreneurs and continue to serve the community well after they complete their service.”
His Excellency Dr Al Nuaimi said: “The joint project between MOCCAE and the National and Reserve Service Authority is a prime example of capitalizing on the capabilities of our young people and helping them acquire the skills to venture into entrepreneurship and actively participate in building a brighter future for our country.”
He added: “The research outcomes will be accessible to all farmers, particularly private sector entrepreneurs, who can benefit from them in scaling up their production and developing new enterprises that highlight the role of agricultural innovation in environmental sustainability and combating climate change.”
The project aims to leverage AI to increase the efficiency of agricultural systems, identify optimal variables throughout the crop cycle, transfer knowledge and technical skills to youth, and integrate expertise from various fields to devise future food security solutions. As per the Minister’s instructions, MOCCAE will incorporate the results, once verified, in its smart agriculture portfolio.
In the first phase, the Ministry selected the Agricultural Research Center in Dibba as the ideal location for the project, and determined and provided all the requirements. Meanwhile, the recruits attended training sessions on AI and automation in agriculture, run in collaboration with the food tech company Winnow and Wageningen University & Research from the Netherlands.
In the second phase, the recruits learned about the ongoing research project exploring rice cultivation in the desert at the Ministry’s Agricultural Innovation Centre in Al Dhaid, and studied optimal methods for the commercial production of leafy plants at Madar Farms in Abu Dhabi. Based on analyzing the data gathered during this phase, they formulated recommendations and proposed innovative high-tech agricultural solutions. With the assistance of private sector partners, the recruits developed and installed an AI-driven hydroponics system at the Dibba project site.
The next phase will include finetuning the system through continuous monitoring and data analysis throughout the crop growth cycle, and comparing the results with the predictions generated by AI in advance to assess its accuracy and effectiveness.