Posted on July 07, 2017

In a response to the current political situation in the region and the blockade that followed, Qatari farmers have come up with several innovative initiatives to boost cultivation to curb the impacts of the blockade on the country's food supplies.

Qatar Tribune visited Alsulaiteen Agricultural and Industrial Complex (SAIC), one of the leading companies that produce foodstuff in Qatar, to showcase the alternative plans they are working on to boost production and extend the seasons for different vegetables as well as livestock and poultry production. SAIC Chairman Abdallah Salem al Sulaiteen highlighted some innovative solutions Qatari farmers are adopting to boost production and substitute goods coming from the blockading countries. He stressed the need to stand for the country to achieve self-sufficiency and food security, adding that further steps are on the way to make local products more popular in the markets.

Farmlands in Africa: Sulaiteen

As a solution to some challenges that Qatari farmers may encounter on production, Sulaiteen said that his group has recently bought a large farmland in Ethiopia with an area of more than 120 acres and is working on acquiring similar farmlands in Kenya and Somalia.

This, with the abundance of water sources in these countries, will guarantee constant production of different kinds of vegetables and fruits as the cultivation in Qatar for certain vegetables decreases in some months of the year. According to Sulaiteen, this is an approach to maintain uninterrupted supplies which the Qatari market demands, adding that other Qatari farmers are also interested in such a solution and are working on it as a golden chance to find alternative sources and complement Qatari produced vegetables.

He said cultivation in Qatar had always been abandoned and did not receive as much support as it deserved in the past despite many initiatives by government. "Government is now looking more seriously to develop cultivation sector and boost farms production by re-launching the national programme which was stopped several years ago. We, as the private sector, will do more than our best and cooperate with the land to achieve our desired goals as this is our duty towards our country," Sulaiteen said. He urged the private sector, especially the experienced Qatari farmers, to be strongly involved in helping the country achieve food sufficiency.

Power and Water Resources 

To address the needs of Qatari land for more water consumption and electricity due to the country's climate, Sulaiteen said, "We have been studying alternative solutions to enable us improve our production without raising the cost price. Now, we have the new and cheap technology to desalinate seawater for our farms because we have plenty of seawater being a peninsula."

"Electricity is always a burden for the Qatari farmers as the need of it is very high to run the machines in the greenhouses, although government provides us electricity at prices much lesser than other GCC countries provide to their people." He added that the farm is also investing in renewable energy, particularly solar power. "Solar power has become very practical in commercial use recently as solar cells are being built in Asia at very competitive prices that will not affect the production cost and will be profitable for farmers," Sulaiteen said.

Qatari Products the Best in GCC

Speaking about the quality of Qatari vegetables, Sulaiteen said that Qatari farms gained accreditations from international organisations based in Europe. "In order to acquire these accreditations, we had to work hard and meet the standards set by these organisations. This process takes a long time with frequent unexpected check-ups from time to time," said Sulaiteen proudly. He explained how the feedbacks were very positive on the Qatari products when participating in international agricultural exhibitions as Qatari produce are described among the best in the region.

Sulaiteen added that they have developed a new department for quality monitoring, which is responsible for maintaining international standards in cultivation methods.

source: Qatar Tribune

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