Qatar’s agro-production is all set to expand with Hassad Food’s newly-created wholly-owned subsidiary Mahaseel undertaking the marketing and offering the required support to the sector as part of Doha's strategy to achieve self-sufficiency in the primary sector.
"We conducted market analysis, and identified a mechanism to offer the required support to the private agricultural sector, in order to contribute to the country’s self-sufficiency, and accordingly, we established a company specialised in marketing and agricultural services," Hassad Food chief executive Mohamed bin Badr al-Sadah told reporters on Monday.
The company, which will be operational in six months, would not only encourage local farmers to increase quantity and enhance quality of local produce but also ensure full procurement from them. The company has been formed in co-ordination with Qatar Chamber (QC) and the Ministry of Municipality and Environment (MME), which were represented by Sheikh Khalifa bin Jassim al-Thani, QC chairman; and Sheikh Dr Faleh bin Nasser al-Thani, Assistant Undersecretary of Agriculture and Fisheries, MME respectively.
Al-Sadah said the MME will play the regulator's role and the targeted firms will be divided into three stages and the ministry would determine which one would enter which stage as well as the quantity and prices. He said the aim is to provide the needed support to the private agricultural sector, to encourage the farmers to increase their production, given that supporting food security efforts tops Hassad’s strategic objectives.
Elaborating on the study undertaken to examine the issues in the agriculture sector; Hassad Food vice-president Ali Hilal al-Kuwari said the private sector farmers were found lacking in marketing and by creating Mahaseel, this critical aspect in the supply chain is addressed.
He said there are around 1,500 farms under production, of which 400 have their own marketing mechanism, while the remaining would need help and it is where Mahaseel would pitch in. "We will buy the products" (in entire), he said, adding Mahaseel will have its own packaging unit and a brand that will be announced later.
Although agricultural production output is very low, yet very significant increases in aspects like, cultivated area of several groups of crops, number of farms, productivity indexes, livestock numbers and area irrigated were achieved, according to a study prepared by the MME for the UN body. Qatar will become almost self-sufficient in some agricultural sectors by 2022, in accordance with Qatar National Vision 2030, HE the Minister of Municipality and Environment HE Mohamed bin Abdullah al-Rumaihi had said earlier this year.
He had said Qatar allocated QR70mn to support local farmers in providing agricultural equipment, inputs and pesticides. QC board member Mohamed bin Ahmed al-Obaidly, also chairman of the QC committee for food security and environment, had said the availability of locally produced vegetables has been steadily on the rise in the local market since the blockade was imposed in June 2017.
Agriculture in Qatar was confined to a few farms and date gardens during the period prior to the late 1950s. From about 1958 onwards the number of farms increased steadily to reach a total of around 1,500 by now.
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