Qatar is making ambitious move to make its ‘green dream’ a reality. The Ministry of Environment’s recent agreement with the Damascus-based Arab Centre for the Studies of Arid Zone and Dry Lands (ACSAD) is expected to help Qatar convert huge areas of desert lands into pastoral space and dry lands into arable.
ACSAD is a specialised Arab organisation working within the frame work of the League of Arab States which aims to develop the scientific agricultural research in the arid and semi-arid areas. It also helps in exchange of information and experiences and make use of the scientific progress and the modern agricultural techniques in order to increase the agricultural production in the region.
As per the agreement, the ACSAD will also support Qatar to develop production of livestock, set up gene banks, re-charging of Qatar’s fast depleting groundwater resources and growing the multi-purpose drought-resistant plants.
The Ministry of Environment’s decision to sign agreement on cooperation with the ACSAD comes close on the heels of a private entity launching a huge green project in the country with the support of the Ministry of Environment. Of late, Hassad Qatar, a subsidiary of BARWA, has successfully expanded its 162-acre farm project by importing and installing two nine-tower, 132-acre central irrigation systems and one 30-acre central irrigation system.
In addition, the company has constructed a new reservoir to increase its treated water storage capacity from 21,000 to 73,500 cubic meters.
The expanded area will produce 35,000 pale every harvest, a total of around 280,000 pale (5,600 tonnes) per year with its first harvest due in September. Following the new investment and expansion, total annual farm production will reach 10,400 tons of Rodes fodder.
The success of the farm project has motivated Hassad Qatar to begin similar projects in various regions of Qatar. The new projects will cover a planted area of 275.5 acres, in addition to 15 acres at Umm Salal.
Fighting desertification and re-charging of groundwater are among other major highlights of Qatar’s development vision for the next twenty years. Recently a released study report on Qatar’s ecosystem say due to over-grazing, the grass community in Qatar has largely been replaced by perennial shrubs that are thorny, toxic and generally unpalatable. The change from traditional to modern rangeland management has resulted in a decrease in vegetation density from ten percent of land cover to approximately one percent of land cover.
Studies have also found that the loss of plant cover has led to an increase in wind erosion and decrease in soil fertility, and all these lead to decline in species diversity.
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