Qatar is close to achieving food self-sufficiency thanks to the rapid pace and enthusiasm with which all sectors are functioning since the beginning of the unjust siege imposed on the country, Executive Vice-President of Hassad Food Company Ali bin Hilal al-Kuwari has said.
Everyone has learned to look for alternatives and solutions to problems as a result of the crisis, he said.
In an interview with Al-Arab Qatari newspaper on Monday, al-Kuwari said that internal and external investments of Hassad, which is a pioneer company investing in agriculture and livestock sectors, and the complementary role it played with the private sector, have contributed from the first day of the siege to achieve food security in the country.
Since the first hours of the unjust siege, Hassad identified the obstacles that would follow it such as the shortage of the products coming from the siege countries in the local market, and the disruption of transportation of goods from those countries, he said, stressing "within hours of the first day of the siege, we were able to communicate with sisterly and friendly countries that could provide us with these products and the transportation means."
Meanwhile, he pointed out that the company, since the early days of the siege and during the month of Ramadan and after the holidays, has persevered to secure the market and make it strong, adding that the task was then entrusted to the private sector in all the products and materials which they were importing. After that, as the private sector has been managing all operations since last month, the company returned to focus on its core business of investing, he said.
Hassad's internal investments, al-Kuwari said, have played an important role as it has the largest agricultural production farm in Qatar, and from the first day the company has increased its area by about 40,000 square metres.
He also referred to an existing 80,000 sq m project and the Arab Qatari Company for Poultry Production (Al Waha) which increased its production from 8mn to more than 9mn birds, stressing that there is further expansion which is expected to increase the production to 16mn birds and 120mn eggs by the end of this year. There is also an increase in the feed production, sale and import with Qatar feed company, which is owned by Hassad, he said.
He pointed out that Hassad launched several initiatives in this regard. It launched "Iktefa" initiative which aims at encouraging the agricultural sector in general he said, adding that there were a lot of non-producing farms in Qatar and the focus was specifically on helping and encouraging this group on a commercial basis.
"Now, we are in the final stage of signing the agreements to provide them with all the services from the feasibility study, facilitate the financing processes, production inputs and forward payments within 90 days as well as agricultural supervision by technicians and engineers in Hassad in addition to focus on the biggest concern for all which is the marketing of products," he said, adding that the basis of the agreement is that the company will purchase all future farmers' products.
Although the foreign investments are based on purely commercial terms, they play a major role in achieving self-sufficiency either directly or indirectly.
For example, Qatar imports a lot of meat through national companies from Hassad Australia, a wholly owned company of Hassad Qatar and is one of the largest suppliers to the country, he said, pointing out that the company also owns 33% of the largest poultry company in Oman whose products reach Doha during the siege, and through communication with the company the productivity has been increased to allocate a larger share to Qatar. The company also has rice production project for the State, he said, adding that the company's investments have a significant impact on the market in Doha.
He stressed that if the situation continues on this path, self-sufficiency will be achieved very soon, noting that the private sector is working hard. "Our complementary role contributes to achieving self-sufficiency and we learned from this crisis to search for alternatives and solutions. We will continue along this line in the future. Our development is very rapid and the infrastructure in Qatar has developed significantly. We expect the pace we were working on before the siege to be much greater," he said.