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  • Writer's pictureEthan Fulton

New podcast: Addressing food security challenges through renewable energy

In a rich discussion as part of the Future Energy Insights podcast, thought leaders convened to shed light on the evolving agriculture and sustainability landscape. Moderated by Zest Associates Managing Director Jeffrey Beyer, Episode 11 of Future Energy Insights included:

  1. Samantha Kayruz, Strategy & Sustainability Impact Director at Goumbook, a leading social enterprise accelerating sustainability in the UAE and beyond

  2. Youssef Chehade, founder and CEO of Ecyclex — a regional e-waste recycler — and ReLoop, an app empowering UAE households to recycle

  3. Stuart Oda, an investment banker turned urban farmer and founder of Alesca Life creating next generation urban farming solutions

Click the icon to access the episode.

Some key insights from the episode's discussion of the agricultural sector:

  1. High and low tech meet on an uneven playing field — Disparities in access to investment and technology remain significant. However, shifting energy landscapes are opening the doors to innovative solutions — synthetic gas, biogas, and geothermal energy are promising contenders for revolutionizing small-scale farming.

  2. Measurement is crucial for improvement — Low-cost monitoring devices can help empower farmers to improve efficiency and address the 70% of food loss that occurs during handling and transport.

  3. Vertical farming can be scalable and sustainable — As the majority of the world's population resides in cities, they can become more sustainable and reduce their import dependence. In areas with high labor costs, urban farms can be more cost-effective than greenhouses.

Much of the remaining challenge rests in accelerating investment in the agri-tech space. Venture capital funding continues to lag as sustainability returns are long-term. Chehade emphasized the importance of collaboration between government and semi-government entities and private sector players within the agriculture sector to ensure the right incentives and regulations are in place. The UAE stands as a potential pioneer for this model, investing in localization of R&D and regional administration to pioneer advancements in sustainable agriculture.

The picture for the future of farming is bright yet the blend of innovation, collaboration and regulatory evolution must be perfected to fuel a sustainable future.


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