Dubai Municipality launches second “Grow Your Food” initiative

Dubai Municipality launches second “Grow Your Food” initiative

Eng. Hussain Nasser Lootah, Director General of Dubai Municipality on Tuesday opened this year’s “Grow Your Food” initiative. The municipality is organizing the green initiative for the second year in a row encouraging Dubai residents to cultivate vegetables and fruits at balconies and terraces of their homes.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations will take part in the  campaign this year as it is consistent with FAO efforts to achieve food security and fight and eradicate hunger and malnutrition by 2030, as part of the Sustainable Development Goals.

“The campaign aims to raise public awareness on the importance of farming at homes and educational institutions. The Municipality seeks to establish a culture of food sustainability and security of the UAE community in the long term,” said Khalid Mohammed Sharif Al Awadhi, Assistant Director General of Dubai Municipality for Health, Safety and Environment Control.

He added that the initiative also aims to support the vision of Dubai Municipality, which focuses on building a happy and sustainable city through the promotion of food security.

Al Awadhi explained that the most important characteristic of the initiative this year is the addition of people with disabilities within the categories of the competition, offering a full range of workshops to this segment of the society. The competition is open for four categories – the educational institutions, government and private companies, centers for people with special needs, and the emirate's residents.  

Thanking the UAE for launching such innovative initiatives, Nabil Gangi, FAO deputy regional representative to the Near East and North Africa, and sub-regional coordinator ad-interim for the GCC States and Yemen, said: “It encourages people to contribute to food security in creative ways that also preserve the environment in accordance with sustainability fundamentals. FAO hopes that other regional countries will follow suit and compete for achieving food security.”

Gangi was selected as a member of the jury for the campaign’s competition, which is based on the idea of leveraging available resources for better cultivation in line with best agricultural standards. Through fieldwork and educational leaflets, a technical team will advise participants on how to cultivate land and educate them on plant pests and diseases as well as ways to eradicate them.

The previous campaign, launched during the World Food Day saw a tremendous response from citizens and expatriates in the UAE, particularly students on the concept of home farming. It encouraged the civic body to adopt the initiative as an annual event.  

Last year, Dubai Municipality disseminated guidance leaflets on ways to grow home and school gardens. The first step is to plan a garden by identifying and evaluating features of the location, before deciding on pathways, waterlines, and shades. Next is to design the distribution of plants, and an irrigation system suited for fruits.

The initiative will start this year with a training workshop where the organizing team will explain the correct methods of cultivation that suits the country’s environment. After the workshops the competition will be open and those who wish to participate can register their names. The participants will be given two to three months duration for cultivation, and then send pictures of the crops. The jury will evaluate the gardens and select ten contestants from each category. Consequently it will visit these farms and a winner will be chosen from each category.

The jury will consist of officials from the Food Safety and the Public Parks & Horticulture departments of Dubai Municipality, Ministry of Education and the Knowledge and Human Development Authority, in addition to representatives of the sponsors.

The campaign is divided into several phases of implementation such as marketing and promotion of the initiative in parks, shopping centers, cooperative societies, Global Village, schools, universities, companies and centers/schools for people with special needs; posters/leaflets/ publications in schools, parks and shopping complexes and coverage by means of social media.