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17 November 2009 12:46 pm

Qatar initiates plans for better food security

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Qatar, which imports 90 percent of its food requirements, has launched an historic initiative to achieve food supply security. The initiative primarily aims at arid land agriculture research and similar unique issues that face the country and other arid regions in the world. With the success of the research, Qatar can hope to boost agricultural production to at least achieve self-sufficiency, if not produce surplus for exports. As part of the key initiative, a National Food Security Program, aptly titled ‘Qatar National Food Security Program’ (QNFSP), has been launched. Its objective is to develop a comprehensive food security policy for the state by increasing local food production and securing the supplies of imported food. The country hopes to establish a global reference point for green agriculture policy for arid countries worldwide. QNFSP incorporates a taskforce consisting of 14 institutions from across government and private sectors in the country as well as outside. Qatar imports 90 percent of its food requirements as local production is relatively low. Only one-third of the arable land occupied by farms is being cultivated, and agricultural production here has dropped 0.5 percent. Levels of agricultural production have largely been limited because of water scarcity and depletion, poor soil quality, as well as unfavourable climate for farming. Aquifers are under threat of depletion at the rate of 220 cubic metres per acre, and the country’s strategic water reserve is just 1.8 days. As a response to the challenges inherent in its climate and geography, the Emir H H Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani has announced the creation of the QNFSP at the World Summit on Food Security in Rome, Italy. The food security of Qatar demands strategic planning, research, and technological development to meet and sustain its own food security because of limited domestic agricultural production and scarce fresh water resources. http://thepeninsulaqatar.com/Display_news.asp?section=Local_News&subsection=Qatar+News&month=November2009&file=Local_News2009111744015.xml