Posted on March 25, 2017

Qatari farmers have called for new regulations that will ease the process of importing material needed for farming and help break the monopoly of supermarkets "The main challenge facing Qatari farmers is the lack of regulations that help them import any materials related to their farming process," Managing Director of Agrico Qatar, Nasser Ahmed al Khalaf, told Qatar Tribune.

"The current rules do not allow farmers to import fertilisers and pesticides by themselves, but only via import and export companies. Another issue is of supermarkets in Qatar that offer cheap prices for the products of the local farmers, leaving them with a small profit margin," he added. "Most countries provide more subsidies for the agriculture sector than industrial. However, Qatar provides the same electricity tariff for both sectors," he said.

Mohamad al Kani, Account Manager of Baladna Company, said a new legislation is needed for the agriculture sector to help farmers break the monopoly of supermarkets and to ease the process of importing material needed for their work. "We produce around 50 percent of fodder locally. However, we have to import the rest from other countries at higher prices. If we could import ourselves, we would be able to save a lot of money," he added.

Assistant Undersecretary of Agricultural Affairs, Livestock and Fisheries, Sheikh Faleh bin Nasser al Thani told Qatar Tribune that the Ministry of Municipality and Environment (MME) is open to discussing with farmers all issues related to their needs in order to help them increase their production and attract more investor into this important sector. Speaking on the sidelines of the fifth Qatar International Agricultural Exhibition 'Agriteq 2017', he said the government provides electricity to farms and factories at cheap rates. However, the ministry will study ways to decrease extra costs if incurred by farmers due to electricity supply, he added. "The minister will not tolerate use of agricultural farms for activities other than farming. According to the current rules, the ministry can slap a fine to the tune of up to QR100,000 against a farmer if he is found not using his farm for agricultural purpose," he added.

Praising the government initiative to help farmers in selling their products to the public, owner of Global Farm for Agriculture Supplies Ali Ahmad Saad al Kaabi said, the government is helping farmers to earn good prices for their products through Al Meera supermarket and Al Mazrouah Yard. "The government gives us the right to decide the prices of our products and this is happening for the first time in the GCC region. This allows the company to provide Al Meera with 32 tonnes of vegetable every week," he added.

Kaabi said farm owners who use the land for other purposes must face tough action and the land must be handed over to more serious investors. Agrico, a pioneering company in Qatar boasts of only organic products and exports to all GCC countries. Agrico exports around 20 tonnes of vegetable every week.

source: Qatar Tribune