Abu Dhabi Agriculture and Food Safety Authority has received 621 registrations from across the UAE for the second Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Agricultural Excellence Award including 328 participants in the main award and 293 participants in the associated competitions. The awards aim to highlight the importance of UAE’s role towards agricultural sustainability, food security and enhancing the quality of local production.

The Organising Committee said the registration for the main categories of the award closed on 15 December 2023, while registration is still open for the competitions that accompany the award, which include various contests for the best dates produce, the best breeds, the milk competition, the weights competition, a weekly livestock auction. In addition, registrations are still open for live cooking competitions for productive families, suggesting a significant increase in the number of participants at the end of this session.

In terms of participants in the main award categories, the committee reported that the Farmer and Breeder Excellence Award attracted the largest percentage of registered participants with a total of 256 participants, including 175 participants in the Best Farmer category in the plant category, compared to 81 participants in the Best Breeder category.

The committee also noted that the Best Female Farmer and Breeder category attracted 45 women registering to compete for this award, which was introduced for the first time in this edition to encourage and recognise outstanding women who are actively contributing to the development of agriculture in Abu Dhabi. 41 women registered to compete for the Best Plant Breeder Award, while three women competed for the Best Animal Breeder Award, with one entry in both the plant and animal categories.

The committee further explained that the competition for the Innovation Award, both plant and animal, recorded 23 participants from different UAE emirates, including 17 participants for the plant part compared to 6 participants for the animal part, while the commercial farms category recorded 4 participants.

As for the participants in the associated competitions, a total of 148 participants competed in the Best Breed competition, while 72 participants from the UAE and GCC countries competed in the Best Weight competition, 66 in the Best Milk Production competition and 9 in the Awareness and Promotion competition.

It is envisaged that specialised committees will begin the technical and field evaluation phase. Qualified farms will be visited to be evaluated according to the criteria and conditions of the Award, which were devised by a specialised technical committee of experts and technicians in agriculture, both plant and animal, in addition to agricultural innovation.

The finalists will be announced after the preliminary evaluation results are approved, and the award ceremony to honour the winners will take place on 5 March 2024 with the presence of all participants.

With prizes totalling more than AED10 million, the award's second cycle encompasses various categories, including participants in the main award categories, competitors in several activities associated with the Sheikh Zayed Festival in Al Wathba, and participants in various festivals organised within the award.

The award has been divided into four main categories including the first category featuring eight sub-categories for distinguished farmers and breeders. Four awards will be given to plant production-related sub-categories, including the Best Farm in Open Field Cultivation, the Best Farm in Greenhouse Cultivation, the Best Farm in Fruit Production and the Best Organic Farm. The other four awards will be given to animal production-related sub-categories, including the Productive livestock Farms, Small-Scale Producers, Beekeepers and Aquatic Farms.

The second category is dedicated to agricultural innovation and includes two awards, the first for plant production and the other for animal production. The third category is dedicated to commercial farms and includes two awards, one for commercial plant farms and the other for commercial animal farms. In this edition also, a new category was introduced to recognise exceptional women in agriculture. This fourth category is dedicated to honouring the best distinguished woman farmer and breeder, with two awards: one for the best distinguished female farmer and the other for the best distinguished female breeder. The aim is to support and recognise women's significant role and efforts in agriculture, contributing to enhancing the food security system.

This year, the award includes 9 different festivals and 21 competitions associated with the award divided into 62 sub-competitions, which include the best product of dates, best manufacturing products from palm, best fruit basket of the house, best fig basket, and best Sidr fruits competitions. Additionally, there will be a live cooking competition, a contest for the best animal and marine food processing, a competition for the best dairy product, livestock competitions, and an awareness and promotional competition.

The Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Agricultural Excellence Award is an initiative to stimulate agricultural innovation and encourages outstanding farmers and livestock breeders in the UAE, support food security and consolidate the concepts of agricultural sustainability. It also supports the application of best global practices to improve the agricultural sector and ensure the sustainability of resources.