In accordance with its strategic plan, the Ministry of Municipality seeks to achieve food security for the State of Qatar while ensuring efficient resource management and adhering to the highest food safety standards. This is to be accomplished by increasing production and using technology-based agriculture systems to achieve self-sufficiency and reduce the use of groundwater, and fully transitioning to treated wastewater for animal feed.
The Ministry, represented by the Agricultural Affairs Department, is participating in the 43rd World Food Day celebration, which falls on Oct. 16 each year. This year's theme is 'Water is Life, Water is Food. Leave No One Behind'. It is marking the 78th anniversary of the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
This year's celebration aims to raise awareness about the importance of managing water wisely as the availability of this precious resource is threatened by rapid population growth urbanization, economic development, and climate change.
The State of Qatar's celebration of the World Food Day this year coincides with its hosting of the International Horticultural Expo 2023 (Expo 2023 Doha), which highlights the latest Qatari and international initiatives, innovations and efforts in modern agriculture, urban greening, and vegetation. The exhibition focuses on modern agriculture, technology, and innovation.
Being an important department in the agricultural and food security sector at the Ministry of Municipality, the Agriculture Affairs Department is responsible for all matters related to agricultural services. It guides farmers to adopt modern farming techniques to develop and increase local agricultural production in terms of quantity and quality. The department monitors the performance of registered farms and works on their development with the aim of elevating agricultural work in the country. The department adopts a strategic agricultural plan aimed at achieving self-sufficiency in agricultural production and vegetables, contributing to sustainable agricultural development within the framework of Qatar National Vision 2030.
The Agriculture Affairs Department also supports farmers with regular and cooled greenhouses as a modern farming method and promotes the efficient use of irrigation water. The Ministry has a project to distribute modern irrigation networks to farms for use in open field agriculture. The project started in August, 2022, with the aim of spreading modern irrigation methods and increasing the area under drip irrigation. The project targets 400 farms, and its duration is three years (from 2022 to 2024).
The Ministry of Municipality, represented by the Agriculture Affairs Department, paid special attention to rationalizing the consumption of water used in agriculture through various plans and programs. This includes raising awareness and training farmers in the use of modern methods for crop irrigation, as traditional or old irrigation methods lead to a waste of 50 to 60 percent of the amount of water used, affecting groundwater reserves. Currently, modern irrigation networks cover 89% of open field areas in farms.
As part of the efforts made to conserve and reuse water resources in a sustainable way that preserves the environment and optimizes investment for infrastructure facilities in the country, the Ministry of Municipality, represented by the Infrastructure Planning Department in the Urban Planning Sector, and Qatar University, represented by the Chemical Engineering Department at the College of Engineering, completed a project studying the effects of wastewater discharge from district cooling plants on discharge to municipal wastewater Treatment Plant. It recommended that the district cooling plants be discharged using sewage networks to be treated within sewage treatment plants.
The cooling water blowdown (CWBD) is considered as a wastewater stream discharged from cooling towers into the marine environment, and sewage treatment plants or reused in applications such as irrigation of farms, green spaces, and public parks.
On the other hand, the Agricultural Research Department of the Ministry of Municipality adopted a unique technology for cultivating the Salicornia europaea plant at the Vegetables and Horticulture Research Station in Al-Utouriya by using the hydroponic system of return water resulting from groundwater desalination.
Salicornia is characterized by its ability to adapt and grow in difficult environments, which contributes to solving a major environmental problem through the use of return water resulting from the groundwater desalination process, which represents about 60 percent of the total treated water. The water's salinity ranges from 8 to 20 thousand parts per million and is used to grow this multi-beneficial plant.
Salicornia cultivation is one of the department's promising strategic projects. The plant was cultivated for the second year in a row and comes within the interest of studying and benefiting from most of the wild plants in Qatar to contribute to achieving food security and environmental sustainability of genetic resources; noting that Salicornia is characterized by its ability to adapt and grow in difficult environments, and it is a plant of high economic value and is exploited in many agricultural and food uses. Salicornia is characterized by its ability to produce large amounts of protein, amounting to more than 10 percent of the plant's dry weight. The green agriculture of Salicornia represents a promising future to contribute to achieving environmental sustainability and food security.
As part of the Ministrys efforts to rationalize irrigation water, the Public Parks Department operates and manages irrigation in all new parks and most streets in the State of Qatar via central wireless control, using a set of sensors deployed in irrigation sites. All construction contractors have been obligated to adhere to a set of specifications that ensures full monitoring and control on-site.
Through the central control center, irrigation is managed wirelessly. Irrigation programs are created according to each plant type, and water quantities are controlled by reading the flow meter. The control center can be accessed via the Internet from anywhere in the world, as well as receive mobile messages from the control center when alarms occur, and the ability to monitor tank levels in parks through water level measuring sensors.
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