May. 27, 2020


Dr. Abdulmonem Mohamed Al Marzooqi

UAE, Abu Dhabi

Dr. Abdulmonem Mohamed Al Marzooqi

CEO, Elite Agro

Elite Agro is an investment company with a particular focus on food security and sustainability.

BIO

Dr. Abdulmonem Mohamed Al Marzooqi is the CEO of Elite Agro. He has a PhD in environmental sciences and more than 15 years of experience working in the field of environment. He an ISO 140001 certified environmental lead auditor and HSE CAMS certified assessor and verifier. Al Marzooqi is also a member of the UAE National Team for Social Responsibility. Over the years, he has established food and agriculture companies in North African countries such as Morocco and Mauritania. He is a lecturer and professional certified trainer in environment, educational programs, and social responsibility.


How is Elite Agro positioned within the UAE's emerging agricultural sector?
Elite Agro was established in 2010 to further the food-security interests of the UAE. We consider ourselves an investment company with a particular focus on food security and sustainability. Starting mainly with forages in 2010, by 2013 we built our first greenhouses. Now we have four main farms in the UAE, and in addition to production we also engage in trading. Elite Agro's products are mainly among the high-demand vegetable market, including tomatoes, capsicum, eggplants, potatoes, figs, lettuce, legumes, melons, and squash. Beyond vegetables, we also produce other food items, such as honey, olive oil, and olives. Our agricultural operations are located in the UAE, where we are the biggest vegetable producers, and also overseas, in countries such as Serbia, Morocco, and Mauritania. Our strategic assets overseas have combined with our work here in the UAE to revolutionize the local industry. Market disruptions happen in agriculture, as they did in Thailand, India, and Pakistan. We want to ensure that if we face something similar here, our external suppliers are ready. Today, we export our products to most GCC countries. In 2018, we exported potatoes to Somalia through a UN program, and, for the first time, our branch in Mauritania exported blueberries to the UK. Every year, technology is becoming more efficient, and we are seeing higher and better results year on year at lower costs. Our main goal is to ensure that our customers are satisfied and supplied all-year round.

What is the level of sophistication in the UAE agricultural sector, as seen through Elite Agro's work?
The UAE's climate is extreme, reaching 50 degrees Celsius in the summer. Water scarcity is also a major issue. The ground water has high levels of salinity, so we must use technology to overcome this and also use desalinated seawater provided by the municipality. The soil is also poor. On top of this, the market itself is tough, with high competition. Survival is such a market is hard, considering all of these factors and the cost pressures and competition from regional neighbors, namely Iran, Oman, and Jordan. Elite Agro has experts from more than 25 nationalities. While it was not easy for many of them to acclimate to the specific conditions that we face in the UAE, their experience has allowed us to reach a level where we are competing with advanced agricultural economies. We also have a robust R&D team, which has managed to create products that consumers can distinguish on the shelf by virtue of their taste and shelf life. Elite Agro has one of the best post-harvest systems in the UAE. We are one of the few to use immediate pre-cooling, which increases the shelf life. Our table tomato, for example, can last 18 days thanks to our post-harvest techniques. We use plastic with micro-holes, allowing the crops to breathe. There is a real science to getting all of this right, and it is reflected in Elite Agro's certification by GLOBAL G.A.P., an international assurance program for good agricultural practices.

How does Elite Agro counter cost pressures and ensure the sustainability of its business model?
There are four ways that Elite Agro works to maintain profitability: refining the efficiency of its processes, targeting the right markets, achieving economies of scale, and investing in R&D. In terms of targeting the right market, our sales team works hard to open new markets and secure the best retailers, food processors, and wholesalers. In Abu Dhabi, the agricultural sector is comprised of 4,000 small farms scattered throughout the region. Our four large farms, however, enable us to reach economies of scale that offset our general overhead and administrative costs, which tend to be high in this business. Finally, in the area of R&D, Elite Agro has made a mark on the local market by building greenhouses. Elite was the first company in the UAE to produce tomatoes and capsicum year-round.

ADVERTISEMENT