25 Dec 2017 - 12:14

Boosting agriculture

The Peninsula

Steps taken by Qatar in the past to boost agriculture have begun to yield positive results. Looking at the recent developments, it can be easily said that the local farms are set to play a crucial role in ensuring food security of the country. 

Mahaseel (Harvest) Festival that kicked-off on Saturday attracted huge crowd who flocked to Katara to buy locally grown fruits and vegetables as well as livestock, dairy and poultry products. 

Organised by the Cultural Village Foundation - Katara in cooperation with the Ministry of Municipality and the Environment, this year’s festival has expanded in participation with 30 stalls representing 22 Qatari farms and six national food companies offering a variety of high quality freshly picked fruits and vegetables as well as dairy, meat, poultry, honey, and juices at competitive prices. Mahaseel has become one of the most important festivals in Katara which provides excellent platform for local farms and food production businesses to directly sell high quality products to consumers.

Winter vegetable markets are also playing an important part in encouraging agriculture in the country. The winter vegetable markets, which opened at Al Mazrouah, Al Khor-Dhakhira and Al Wakrah, in the last week of October are attracting scores of buyers. They have become a much sought after place for the buyers who are always looking to purchase fresh vegetables and fruits. Over 80 local farms are offering 26 varieties of fresh vegetable and fruits in these markets. 

With support of Qatar Development Bank (QDB), the local farmers have increased vegetable production capacity of their farms significantly and are expecting to harvest double the quantity in the ongoing season. The farmers have added new greenhouses at their farms and have acquired more free spaces of arable land to boost production.

The government is also organising exhibitions and workshops to boost agriculture sector. In March this year, a four-day Qatar International Agricultural Exhibition (Agriteq 2017), was organised at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Center (DECC).

The exhibition provided a valuable platform in boosting Qatar’s agricultural market by promoting local products, offering industry consultations and showcasing effective solutions to emerging challenges and take advantage of current opportunities to raise the bar on agricultural development and increase its contribution to Qatar’s GDP to more than 4 percent annually.

The Ministry of Municipality and Environment is looking closely to rope in private sector to enhance research work to ensure food security in the country. “Many private companies have shown interest to join us in developing research works in the fields of agriculture and environment,” said Dr Mohamed Saif Al Kuwari, Director of the Municipal and Environmental Studies Centre speaking on the sidelines of an event held recently. 

All these efforts by the policy makers will have a lasting effect in propelling the country on the path of food security.