Qatar’s quest for food security got a fillip yesterday with officials of South Korea’s Gyeonggi province and a local company signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to establish “vertical farming factories” in the country.
Khalid Ahmed Abdulah Misned, chairman of the Al-Ahmedia Trading and Contracting, signed the MoU with Gyeonggi vice governor Jae-Yul Lee in the presence of ambassador Keejong Chung and Kim Jong Chul, the president and CEO of Vegetech, a pioneer in vertical farming and other representatives from both companies at a ceremony in Doha .
After the signing, Misned said this South Korean method of agriculture was highly suitable for Qatar. “It will help grow most of the vegetables for the local market, thereby reducing the quantity of Qatar’s imports,” he said.
The Qatari entrepreneur was impressed with the vertical farming technology during his visit to South Korea last year. He believes that the technology will help in improving agricultural production in Qatar.
Highlighting some of the important details in the MoU, Misned said the project was all about importing the technology from South Korea to implement it in Qatar under Al-Ahmedia.
“We are in the process of contracting. Once we sign the contract, we expect by next winter to start the construction and set up the system,” Misned added.
Lee said the Qatar government and Gyeonggi province had earlier discussed about collaboration in research to implement this method of farming “in the oil-rich country”.
He noted that 20 such plant factories had been operating in Korea. Five are already commercialised and located at Gyeonggi province. The vice governor did not mention how many factories would be built in Qatar.
“This cutting-edge technology will help produce fresh vegetables locally,” said Lee, adding that part of knowledge transfer was to train the nationals on how to operate the plant factories.
Underlining the efficacy of the technology, Kim explained that crops grown under the vertical farming system would need less water and energy to grow. It will also require less space and even less manpower.
Lettuce, spinach and many leafy vegetables can be grown in Qatar using vertical farming and it only takes about 35 days to harvest them.
Kim expressed confidence that the technology could also cover other types of crops.
In Korea, he noted that they can produce 1,500 packs of vegetables in a day. Considering that many Koreans consume large quantities of vegetables, they are now studying the vegetable consumption of residents in Qatar and thereby trying to understand the local needs.
Earlier reports revealed that the Korean technology could combat excessive hot and humid weather through an air-conditioning system in multi-level farms.
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