Qatar could become an exporter of several agricultural products at some point in the future, an expert from the US told Gulf Times.

“There are tremendous opportunities for the country,” claimed horticulture specialist Glenn Behrman, a proponent of controlled-environment indoor farming concept called 'Growtainer'.

It features a container - a highly engineered modular and mobile vertical production environment, custom-built for a wide variety of crops, botanical products and business models. In the high tech facility, plants are grown in nutrient-enriched water through vertical farming. They can be grown in shipping containers, warehouses or such enclosed areas.

“We can recreate nature. If the plants want rain, there will be rain, if there is no need of wind, there will be no wind and can even provide the best light for the plant. It is fully controlled through computers. Some crops grow 18- 20 hours a day and the yield is dramatically higher,” said Behrman.

In Qatar to explore the possibilities of introducing the new method, the expert had several rounds of meetings with the royal family members, government officials, potential partners and investors as well as business people in the country.

“We have had several rounds of discussions. They had visited me in the US and invited me to come over here. Now, we are moving into the next stage of co-operation. I am hopeful that we will be able to start the project in less than six months,” noted Behrman.

According to Behrman, most types of vegetables can be grown using the technology. “The normal space between the rows in a shipping container is about 18-20 inches. You can grow anything with shallow roots. Lettuce, tomatoes, radish, herbs, spices and leafy vegetables are some of them,” he explained.

The expert also pointed out that the produce from the system are healthier and cleaner than organic products. “It is also less expensive than organic food. They grow 30 to 40% faster than other food items,” he described.

“The technology is very much water conserving and does not waste any water. It uses about 750 gallons of water for certain number of plants whereas in a farm the same number might need 60,000 gallons of water. We can also grow many vegetables that are yet to be grown in Qatar,” he added.

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