Qatar to start a food security program

Ahram Online, Monday 12 Sep 2011

The gulf state says it will utilize the latest technologies to start a major cultivation program that would turn 45,000 hectares into farmland

A Qatari agricultural company executive holds tomatoes in a greenhouse farm project in Umm Salal Mohammed, Qatar. (REUTERS)

Qatar announced it is going to boost its food security, attempting to achieve self sufficiency turning 45,000 hectares (111,200 acers) of Qatari land into farms.

Unlike many Gulf countries investing in foreign farm land, Qatar's ambitious plan will use the most advanced technologies to overcome natural challenges to agricultures in the desert state; namely access to water.

The self-sufficiency plan, which was called for through an Emiri decree, should be ready by 2013, and should take 10 years to achieve goals.

According to Fahd Bin Mohammed Al-Attiyah, chairman of Qatar National Food Security Program (QNFSP), the first step would be setting up 1,400 farms with latest agricultural technology, and develop skills to improve the sector.

The tiny state, housing 1.8 million inhabitants, pays an estimated US$1.3 billion annually for importing foodstuffs, with 75 per cent of imports supplied by only by seven countries. India and the neighboring Saudi Arabia are the country's main food source.

A Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report suggests that only one tenth of arable land in Qatar is cultivated with access to water being the biggest issue facing the country's agriculture. 

Back in August, the QNFSP announced it would launch a food price index that gives a daily update on the prices of different food products in an attempt to regulate the fluctuating food prices due to reliance on importing products.

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