03 Jun 2018 - 10:28
Unjust siege accelerated pace of self-sufficiency in Qatar
By Sachin Kumar | The Peninsula
DOHA: Qatar has moved from siege to self reliance in the last one year. The unjust siege on the country accelerated the pace of self-sufficiency, instead of stalling it. Qatar has achieved high level of self-sufficiency in various food items.
The self-sufficiency level in milk and dairy products has increased to more than 82 percent, 98 percent in fresh chicken and 23 percent for eggs. The self-sufficiency level in local vegetables stands high, while it is 86 percent for dates and 50 percent for green fodder. The number of livestock has increased to over 1.6 million heads, while the self-sufficiency level in fish has reached around 80 percent.
Baladna Food Industries, the largest Qatari Dairy farm, made tremendous efforts to meet the demand for fresh milk and other dairy products since the beginning of the blockade on Qatar. Its state-of-the-art farm is meeting the dairy needs of residents.
High level of self sufficiency in a short span of time was a result of coordinated efforts and proactive steps taken by the government agencies and concerned authorities. The opening of Hamad Port played a key role in breaking the blockade as it ensured normal supply of goods in the country. The $7.4bn Port played in critical role in guaranteeing the supply of goods of every kind whether it was food items or construction materials for various infrastructure projects going in the country.
The $7.4bn Port remains unfazed by the unjust siege imposed by the blockading countries on Qatar as the number of vessels calling at the port and volume of goods has been grown consistently since start of its operation. Within 14 months since the start of operations, the port’s monthly volumes grew from an average of just over 41,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) per month to 105,000 TEUs per month.
Thanks to the opening of new routes, the number of vessels coming to ports every month after siege has almost doubled, showing the strength Qatar’s growing maritime trade.
Hamad Port received the highest number of vessels in April this year. A total of 148 commercial vessels called at Hamad Port which is the highest monthly number ever recorded since the start of operations at the port.
Additionally, QTerminals handled a record-breaking 122,825 TEUs containers in April which is a 17 percent increase over the previous month.
The port, in March this year, celebrated the handling of its first one million TEUs containers. The Port, which was opened in December 2016, achieved this feat in less 14 months which was well ahead of its expected schedule. It plans to achieve the next one million container throughput by the end of this year.
After the blockade was imposed, the Ministry of Transport and Communications and the Qatar Ports Management Company (Mwani Qatar) responded by launching new shipping routes, connecting Hamad Port directly with several marine destinations.
The port received a total of 1,748 vessels in 2017 and handled 772,835 TEU containers, 1,165,180 tonnes of general cargo, 606,412 heads of livestock and 65,096 Roll-on/Roll-off (RoRo) units.
Qatar has launched several initiatives to achieve food security by providing opportunities to private investors in the agricultural sector, with the launch of four large strategic projects for the production of vegetables over an area of 1 million square metres per project. Over the next few years, several investment projects will be made available for the production of green fodder with the use of treated wastewater, according to Ministry of Municipality and Environment.
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 have indicated that the country’s self-sufficiency level will increase to 70 percent in fresh vegetables in two years, 100 percent in dairy products within eight months, 90 percent in table eggs in two years, fish within two years, and 100 percent of shrimp in two years.
A new marketing programme for Qatari vegetables was also launched in consumer complexes with the participation of 105 Qatari farms.
The Ministry of Municipality and Environment is carrying out research on raising agricultural productivity and evaluating and adopting modern technologies to improve the performance of this vital sector.