The specialist agribusiness and veterinary trade events, AGRA Middle East and VET Middle East, officially inaugurated by Eng Hussain Nasser Lootah, Director General, Dubai Municipality on Monday. Running for three days at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre, AGRA Middle East is the region’s largest agriculture business trade event, hosting more than 180 international manufacturers and suppliers of agribusiness equipment from 30 countries looking to showcase their products to importers, buyers and government officials from across the region. The exhibition features the one-day Agribusiness Outlook Forum, where a panel of international experts from leading agricultural organisations and local leaders will discuss the development of an integrated food policy in the GCC region, which currently imports 90 per cent of all its food needs. Shameer Babu, Business Head of Greenmart, the leading agribusiness group in Oman, and one of the speakers on the opening conference session, called for regional collaboration from countries in the Middle East to tackle food security issues, citing technical research and government intervention as the best way forward in producing nutritious food at affordable prices. “Regional associations and alliances need to be formed across countries in the Middle East to exploit agricultural potential of each country and produce a particular crop while maintaining a symbiotic trade relationship between member countries,” said Babu. “The world population is estimated to increase by 1.8 billion people by 2030 and food production at the current pace will not suffice the extra mouths. The challenge is to produce foodstuffs in a sustainable manner by maximising usage of available resources.” “Effective research on producing ‘more crop per drop’ has to be carried out and effective steps need to be taken to ensure judicious use of scarce resources at farms,” he added. Running alongside AGRA Middle East is the fourth edition of VET Middle East, putting a spotlight on an increasingly dynamic animal healthcare sector, and providing a dedicated platform for exhibitors to expand their presence in the region’s growing veterinary industry. Returning this year is the popular Veterinary Outlook Forum, where speakers will be busy addressing delegates on a diverse range of topics from the intelligent use of herbs in animal husbandry; falconry and veterinary medicines in the Middle East; and research on camel milk and its potential for export conditions.