There is a steady increase in the demand for organic produce in Qatar due to the growing awareness on the benefits of organic food among Qataris and expatriates, a culinary expert has said.
At the same time, there is a demand and potential growth for organic farming in Qatar, according to Qatar Culinary Professional chairman Baran Yucel.
“People in Qatar are now more aware about the health benefits and advantages of using organic produce. A few years back, there were no organic plantation at all in Qatar; two years ago, one farm had started and was able to get international certification for organic fruits and vegetables,” Yucel told Gulf Times.
“If there is no demand for organic fruits and vegetables, there won’t be a second and third farm in Qatar. I am fully aware of the second farm and from what I understand, the third one is on its way,” he said.
To raise awareness on organic fruits and vegetables, Yucel said the QCP had organised the Qatar Culinary Roadshow in April. He said the group also joined an event held in May, which was organised by the Qatar Tourism Authority and Georgetown University Qatar.
Next year, Yucel said he planned to add a new category to the roadshow, which would involve the preparation of green salads and vegetarian meals using organic ingredients. He added that the next roadshow would also encourage the public to start growing small herb gardens at home under the theme “Grow your own herbs”.
While organic produce in Qatar is “a bit costly” compared to ordinary fruits and vegetables, Yucel said QCP-member chefs from different hotels and restaurants in Qatar still preferred using organic ingredients in their menu and food preparation.
“The Qatar Culinary Professionals is one of the biggest supporters for the production and planting of organic fruits and vegetables. We are encouraging all the chefs in the community and the public to use organic produce,” he pointed out.
But he clarified that there were limits to using organic produce: “We prefer using organic ingredients as long as it tastes good. If we are able to find organic ingredients that taste according to our standards, we will use them.”
Yucel also noted that the QCP members uphold strict standards when acquiring and using organic produce.
“We don’t just believe the word ‘organic’. We read the certifications. If this tomato or cucumber is said to be organic, I want to read the certification; I want to know the brand or the source of this product,” he stressed.
Speaking to Gulf Times earlier, QCP general manager Yuksel Mutlu said the price of organic food was still expensive but he estimated that once more farms in Qatar would start producing and selling organic fruits and vegetables, prices would be at least 75% cheaper compared to other produce in the market.
He said the QCP also supported local food production even as he stressed that locally-produced fruits and vegetables in Qatar “have good quality and reasonably-priced.”
“In Qatar, demand for locally-farmed produce is high but the production is low, but supporting local farms is a good start, which is why we need to promote them,” he added.
Baran Yucel: Qatar Culinary Professional chairman.