Posted on April 20, 2018

The self-sufficiency in local vegetable production stands at 24 percent, 86 percent in dates, and about 50 percent in green fodder, said Sheikh Dr Faleh bin Nasser Al Thani, assistant undersecretary of the Ministry of Municipality and Environment for agricultural, livestock and fisheries affairs.

He said that self-sufficiency in milk and dairy products in the country has increased to more than 82 percent, while fresh chicken and eggs cover more than 98 percent and 23 percent respectively of Qatar’s market consumption. The number of animals for commercial purpose increased to about 1.6 million heads, while self-sufficiency in fish reached about 80 percent. He was speaking at the end of a two-day seminar on food security.

The event was organised by the ministry in collaboration with the committee on following up the implementation of food security policies in the public and private sectors in cooperation with the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). The Minister of Municipality and Environment, H E Mohamed bin Abdullah Al Rumaihi, attended the seminar. Sheikh Dr Falih bin Nasser Al Thani reaffirmed that the agricultural sector has taken gigantic leaps towards covering the requirements of the local market and raising the self-sufficiency rates in the agricultural, livestock and fishery sectors despite the unjust siege imposed on the country. He said that the second National Development Strategy 2018-2022 has already started.

Al Thani said the state has undertaken a number of initiatives to boost food security by providing opportunities for private investors in the agricultural field by launching four large strategic projects for the production of vegetables over an area of one million square meters per project. Over the next few years, he added, a number of investment projects will be made available for the production of green fodder with the use of treated wastewater so as to conserve groundwater, while bringing about a large boom in the production of green fodder.

The assistant undersecretary pointed out that a new investment project has been launched for fisheries in floating cages with a capacity of 1,000 tonnes per year. Two other projects are planned for the next few years, while the ministry recently launched an investment project for shrimp farming with an annual capacity of 1,000 tonnes. Preliminary estimates and feasibility studies indicate that the country’s self-sufficiency as a result of these mega-projects will increase to 70 percent of fresh vegetables in two years, 100 percent of dairy products within eight months, 90 percent of eggs within two years, 100 percent fish within two years, and 100 percent of shrimp in two years. A new marketing program for Qatari vegetables was also launched in consumer complexes with the participation of 105 Qatari farms.

The assistant undersecretary said that scientific research is the appropriate tool for the development of the agricultural sector, pointing out that the ministry is carrying out research on raising agricultural productivity and evaluating and adopting modern technologies through its relevant departments so as to improve the performance of this vital sector. At the level of infrastructure, he said, the Aquatic Fisheries and Research Center in Ras Matbakh in Al Khor has been constructed to become one of the important productive research centers in the field of aquaculture. The designs of the Agricultural Research and Guidance Center in Al Mazroua, with work on the first phase of the project set to start in 2019.

The Animal Production Research Station in Al Shahaniya opened earlier in the month to develop research on animal production and artificial insemination technology, which will increase the animal production in the country. Dr. Faleh bin Nasser Al-Thani said the upcoming phase requires intensifying the effort on a technical and legislative level to set quick and appropriate solutions for challenges facing agriculture. He added that Qatar is following a comprehensive and inclusive approach for sustainable development and seeks to integrate government and private sectors to meet the needs of all segments of society.

He stressed on working to activate the cooperation between the ministry and the private sector including local, regional and international institutions, to intensify the efforts for comprehensive development in the agricultural, economic and social fields. He said that the Ministry of Municipality and Environment has a great responsibility related to food security and developing natural resources to increase production, to bridge the gap between production and consumption and to increase self sufficiency in vegetables, fish red meat and animal products. This is what the agricultural strategy of Qatar as focused on, all whilst preserving the Qatari environment for the future generations and sustainably developing it, he added.

SDC’s co-head of the Global Program Food Security, Simon Zbinden, highlighted the relations between Qatar and Switzerland. He presented the agricultural conditions and possibilities between both countries in terms of similarities and differences. He praised the great development in Qatar’s agricultural production despite the ongoing siege. He said he is impressed with the achievements Qatar made over a short period and the significant leaps it took in the many agricultural and food fields on its path to self-sufficiency and in various dimensions, including sustainability.

Zbinden highlighted the need to take in consideration sustainability on the long run, when it comes to implementing food security projects and trade projects. He added that work must be made to decrease the production costs in return for revenue, effectively promote the role of local markets and support the related sectors and local produce.

source: The Peninsula