FAO Regional Office for Near East and North Africa



Precision farming is one of the most scientific and modern approaches to sustainable agriculture that has gained momentum in the 21st century. It merges the new technologies borne of the information age with a mature agricultural industry. It is an integrated crop management system that attempts to match the kind and number of inputs with the actual crop needs for small areas within a farm field. This goal is not new, but new technologies now available allow the concept of precision agriculture to be realized in a practical production setting. Precision agriculture often has been defined by the technologies that enable it and is often referred to as GPS (Global Positioning System) agriculture or variable-rate farming. Precision farming distinguishes itself from traditional agriculture by its level of management. Instead of managing whole fields as a single unit, management is customized for small areas within fields. To be viable, both economic and environmental benefits must be considered, as well as the infrastructure for technologies as benefits and also barriers to widespread adoption of precision agriculture management.

Protected crop production is now a growing reality throughout the world, with an estimated 5.2 million ha of greenhouses spread throughout all the continents. The degree of sophistication and technology varies depending on local climate conditions and the socio-economic environment. In addition to significant water savings, protected agriculture can potentially increase productivity up to fivefold over open-field production; improve pest, disease and weed control; and eliminate agricultural groundwater pollution (in the case of closed soilless systems). It is evident, then, that protected agriculture is an ideal system of production under the conditions in the Near East region, answering to the need to save water, protect the environment and supply the region with fresh, nutritious, healthy food.

In particular, protected agriculture is highly relevant in the GCC countries because of their harsh environment. In this context, FAO, ICBA and ICARDA have produced a report on the potential of protected agriculture in the region, which will be presented on the occasion of this zoominar.

Vertical farming is the cultivation of crops using hydroponic and aeroponic technologies, organized in vertically stacked layers. Beyond providing fresh local product, vertical agriculture could help increase food production and expand agricultural operations as the world’s population is projected to exceed 9 billion by 2050. Producing fresh green vegetables close to expected growing urban populations could help meet increasing global and regional food demands in an environmentally responsible and sustainable way by reducing distribution chains to offer lower emissions, providing higher-nutrient products , and drastically reducing water usage and runoff. Vertical farming has become a hot topic during the coronavirus pandemic, as supply chain disruptions and labor shortages feed perennial fears over global food security. Many vertical farms boast cutting-edge technology ranging from artificial intelligence and robotics to lighting and water filtration, and some companies, particularly in Asia, have established successful processes. Consequently, the industry is expected to grow over the next decade, with research group IDTechEx forecasting that annual sales of $700m will more than double to $1.5bn by 2030.

Objectives of the Zoominar

  • Building a common understanding of priorities and options for adapting the agricultural sector to climate change and raising the awareness of climate change adaptation and mitigation
  • Exploring potential innovations and practical experience in Precision Agriculture and Vertical Farming


  • Welcome and Opening of the Zoominar by JeanMarc Faurès, Regional Programme Leader, FAO Regional Office for the Near East and North Africa
  • Opening remarks by Fenton Beed, Senior Agricultural Officer, the Plant Production and Protection Division (NSP) - Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
  • Keynote presentation by Leo Marcelis, Head of chair group Horticulture and Product Physiology, Wageningen University and Research, The Netherlands.

Questions and Answers

Session 1: Case studies: Vertical farming: from small scale to commercial production

Moderated by Mohamed Abdelmonem, Senior Advisor for the Regional Initiative for Small Scale Family Farming, FAO RNE 

  • Advanced technology in vertical farming: Case study with Swedish herbs supplier Oh My Greens (OMG)  by Niko Kivioja , CEO - Netled, Finland.
  • Innovative aeroponic systems help tackle some traditional challenges for agriculture by Otto Muhinda, Assistant FAO Representative - Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rwanda.  

Session 2: New publication launch: Protected Agriculture In The GCC Countries – Saving water and improving nutrition.

Moderated by Ayman Farid Abou Hadid, Former Minister of Agriculture of Egypt, Emeritus Professor - Faculty of Agriculture, Ain Shams University. 

  • Protected agriculture to increase water use efficiency by Khalil Ammar, Principal Scientist in Hydrology - International Centre for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA), United Arab Emirates.
  • Constraints and opportunities for greenhouse production systems  and a vision for the future of Agriculture in the GCC countries by Naem Mazahrieh, Director General Assistant for Research - National  Agricultural Research Center (NARC).
  • Closing remarks by Dino Francescutti, FAO sub-Regional Coordinator for the GCC countries.


Date: 04 November 2021

Time: 11:00 AM - 01:00 PM (GMT+2)

Registration Link: https://bit.ly/3lcE9WW

Languages: English, Arabic, & French