In a country that is a hub for imported produce, Emirati fresh produce growers are banking on consumer behavior. We spoke with Mr. Ali Aljararwah, CEO of Ghalya Farms, a 30-hectare plantation located in the Al Ain area of Abu Dhabi.
Mr. Ali describes his activities: "I have a very diversified production. I grow tomatoes, cucumbers, paprika, pepper, corn, cabbage, eggplant and potato". Mr. Ali continues: "Summer in the Emirates is very tough. we have to use cooling greenhouses for the summer production". 100% of the production is absorbed by the local market: in supermarkets and farmers' markets, and by direct sales from the farm to the final consumer.
The Emirati market is very competitive, and it is the privileged destination of a large number of foreign producers, from neighboring countries to distant countries, who seek to sell their production on the Emirati market. Mr. Ali adds that: "Any Emirati producer of fruits and vegetables is required to have a high quality standard. Otherwise, they will simply be overwhelmed by the competition. The end consumer will not buy a product that is not of high quality".
In addition to binding himself to high quality standards, Ali is also relying on the tendency of UAE end-consumers to favor local production. "I personally encourage everyone I meet to adopt this behavior. I myself buy local production as a priority."
As for prices, Mr. Ali hopes that market prices will rise to absorb the increased production costs. "Fertilizer prices have increased by 300 to 400%, as have seeds. If the market price does not increase, I will be forced to align myself even if it means scraping my margin.
In terms of investment, Ali aims to cover two thirds of his surface with cooling greenhouses. "Currently, I have 10 hectares covered with greenhouses, and I will increase it to 20 hectares". Mr. Ali adds, "I also intend to follow the market demand, adding other popular products such as strawberries, and why not start to compete in the international market."
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Mr. Ali Aljararwah