The introduction of excellent quality local agricultural products at the Central Market in Doha's Abu Hamour has substantially helped in reducing prices of many varieties of vegetables.
Local Arabic daily Arrayah reported that eggplants and watermelon were sold at QR10 for a box of nearly 7kg. A box each of cucumber and leafy vegetables, of the same weight, were sold of QR13.
Other main products included mushroom, green pepper and cabbage for QR15 each per box. Cauliflower was sold for QR18 a box of around 4-5kg and tomatoes and okra were sold for QR25 each for a box of more than 7kg. However, the prices are all the time subject to reasonable bargaining with the seller and customers can further lower the prices, especially before the market concludes at noon.
Speaking to a number of customers and vendors, the daily pointed out that most of them are happy with the local products as it revives sales at the market and brings prices to the affordable range for more customers. In addition, Qatari agriculture products of a very high quality are brought daily to the market. The local farms use high technology to improve production.
The quantity of vegetables on display at the market have increased with the addition of the local products, giving customers wider options. Ibrahim Saleh, a customer, pointed out that there has been a considerable drop in the prices at the vegetable market recently thanks to the local production.
'More efforts should be exerted by the parties concerned to extend the local agriculture season through the use of sophisticated technology," he suggested. In general, vendors at the market stressed that they clearly noticed that Qatari and expatriate customers have expressed their appreciation for the local products over the imported ones.
Gulf Times had reported the other day that Qatari farms have increased their production of fresh vegetables by 100% this winter compared to the same period last year, despite the unjust blockade on the country.
“We expect more locally-produced vegetables to be available in the local market,” prominent Qatari agriculturist Nasser Ahmed al-Khalaf said.
The managing director of Agrico, a private Qatari agricultural development company, attributed the substantial rise in production not only due to the peak (winter) period but also because of the siege, which served as a golden opportunity for Qatari farm owners to expand their operations.
Agrico, established in 2011 with the aim of helping the country achieve food security, operates a 120,000sqm (12 hectare) organic farm in Al Khor. The company recently built an additional 120,000sqm of “seasonal greenhouses” to grow more fresh vegetables this season, in addition to the first facility, which operates year-round.
Al-Khalaf estimated that other local farms in the country also increased their production by 100% this winter, a peak season for Qatar’s agricultural sector.
Using a total of 240,000sqm area, Agrico can now produce six to seven tonnes of vegetables per day and may reach around 10 tonnes daily in a span of one or two months, according to the farm owner.
Before the blockade, he said production rate was 50% less both in the summer and winter. Now, he said Agrico, as well as other commercial farms, can produce more compared to the previous years.
The farm owner pointed out that such strategy of building ‘seasonal greenhouses’ was a quick and cheaper solution to take advantage of the winter season without sacrificing the quality of the products.
Al-Khalaf noted that the country also reduced around 10% of vegetable imports from various countries this year due to the increasing inputs from local farms, with the support of the Qatar government to the agricultural sector.
“In the next few years, with the continuous support of the government and the way it is moving today, we will be self-sufficient in the production of vegetables,” he stressed. “It will be possible if everybody continues to work hard as they have done in this season.”
While fresh produce such as tomatoes, cucumber, mushrooms, and eggplants, among other vegetables and herbs, are already available in the Qatar market, al-Khalaf expects the volume to substantially rise in the coming months.
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