Qatar is set to increase the arable land area in the country with the support of cutting-edge technology and engineering tools. The State is working to provide sufficient quantity of water for farmers by tapping the huge solar energy potential in a bid to multiply agriculture production, according to the Qatar National Food Security Programme (QNFSP). The QNFSP wrapped up a two-day meeting of its Taskforce committee here on Thursday.
The QNFSP, armed with a 14-member task force, is responsible for delivering coordinated and transparent policies for food security in the country.
The initiative is led by the Heir Apparent H H Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.
Fahad Al Attiya, Chairman of QNFSP, said the task force has embarked on developing a comprehensive food security policy for Qatar. There would be added focus on cutting the cost to farmers and launching more solar energy-powered desalination plants to ensure water supply to farmers.
“The limited amount of arable land and the huge cost being incurred by farmers are key challenges facing the agriculture sector here. We hope to tackle this with emerging technology”, Fahad said. Qatar imports 90 percent of its food requirements as local production is relatively low. Only one-third of the arable land occupied by farmers is being cultivated, and agricultural production here has dropped 0.5 percent. Produce has been largely limited because of water scarcity and ground water table depletion, poor soil quality, as well as unfavourable climate for farming.
Importing food is not a viable option for Qatar which fully depended on other countries to meet its demand in 2008, when the global food market turned volatile. The only way is to make the country self-reliant in agriculture to meet domestic needs.
“We believe that ongoing research would be able to strengthen the capacity building of farmers who can bring down the costs. We are looking to offset the production cost through multi-disciplinary initiatives. We are working with QSTP, Qatar Foundation and Texas A&M. We hope QSTP’s proposed project on developing solar energy would help us immensely. QF is also one of our valuable partners”, he said.
Davaid G Raboy, Chief Economist, QNFSP, said Qatar is not the only country in the region that faces the problem of food security. The whole GCC region is facing this key challenge. Food security must be seen as a prime issue in the region, he said.
The two-day meeting of the task force shared its early findings and discussed how these could be applied to meet QNFSP’s objectives.
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