Abu Dhabi Agriculture and Food Safety Authority (ADFSA) has signed two cooperation agreements with Khalifa University of Science and Technology.

The first aims to develop solutions to diversify food import sources using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), while the second aims to implement the first phase of the project ‘Expanding the coverage of inspection and control programs’, to develop smart control systems using AI and Internet of Things (IoT) in targeted establishments in Abu Dhabi in accordance with ADAFSA control and inspection standards and controls.

Khalifa University's Emirates Innovation Center for Communications and Information Technology (EBTIC) is putting the two agreements' requirements into action, as well as developing a strategy and an executive dashboard to diversify food import sources and reduce the risks and costs associated with not diversifying these sources.

It is also developing an AI platform for smart inspection, which will include an algorithm-based model for all ADAFSA inspection standards, cloud storage, and the provision of smart cameras compatible with adopted AI technology at targeted establishments in the first phase.

The agreements were signed by His Excellency Saeed Al Bahri Al Ameri, Director General of the Abu Dhabi Agriculture and Food Safety Authority, and Professor John O'Reilly, President of Khalifa University of Science and Technology.

His Excellency said: “We are pleased to work with Khalifa University and the Emirates ICT Innovation Centre to benefit from its capabilities in the scientific planning of food security policies, and to ensure the provision of safe food at all times.

"ADAFSA is keen on strengthening partnerships that support scientific research and development and harness modern technologies in building and implementing methodologies and studies that support agricultural sustainability goals and contribute to achieving global leadership in food security.

"The agreements aim to develop and implement a strategy to diversify the sources of food imports, strengthen the smart control system to enhance the food security system, and enable the development of policies, regulations and plans that ensure food safety and quality and its continued supply to the UAE, as well as to assist in the development of accurate response plans in times of disaster and crisis, or in the event of any food supply disturbances.”

His Excellency also indicated that diversifying the sources of food imports would achieve great benefits for the national economy thanks to the expansion of the base of trading partners globally, provision of more options for importers, ensuring that there are no future crises due to the shortage of one or more commodities in the markets, as well as increasing the volume of re-export trade, which enhances the country's position as a global center for food security.

He went on to say that ADAFSA is eager to develop state-of-the-art AI-based control systems to meet the Abu Dhabi Government's aspirations and adopt a remote monitoring system using smart cameras and sensors installed in establishments, image and video analysis and sensor readings through AI and the IoT software to monitor violations and unhealthy practices, as well as the introduction of a control room in ADAFSA premises to interconnect all food, agricultural, and animal establishments within the CCTV control system.

His Excellency said: “We are pleased to sign these two agreements with ADAFSA, which allow EBTIC to contribute to enhancing the country's efforts in the field of food security by using innovative technologies particularly AI and ML. EBTIC has the expertise needed to provide appropriate solutions to the challenges facing ADAFSA in diversifying the sources of food imports."

Dr. Nawaf Al Moosa, Director of EBTIC at Khalifa University, said: "We look forward to further cooperation with various government agencies to employ available expertise and innovation in technology to serve the country and lead the future in various fields.”

According to the provisions of the agreement, EBTIC, which was established by Khalifa University, e& Global Technology and Investment Group (Etisalat), BT Group, with the support of ICT Fund, will analyse the current situation of food imports, identify basic food commodities and market gaps.

In addition, a benchmark study of best practices in the field of diversifying import sources globally and in countries similar to the UAE will be conducted, as will the development of a methodology that clearly identifies existing and potential trading partners for various food commodities.

EBTIC will also conduct an assessment of risks related to supply chain paths, develop a clear method to identify optimal import scenarios to mitigate those risks, in addition to developing a capacity-building programme and training national cadres to ensure the continuity of operations of the project outputs, and aligning it with the relevant efforts at the federal level.

The second agreement provides for Khalifa University to provide a detailed roadmap for the development of the smart control system using AI and IoT technologies in the targeted establishments in Abu Dhabi in accordance with ADAFSA control and inspection standards and requirements, in addition to providing all information and advice related to the stages of implementation as well as technical support and annual maintenance.