National food security and sustainability has been boosted with tonnes of fruit and vegetables grown in school greenhouses run by the Sahtak Awalan -- Your Health First’s Khayr Qatarna programme.
The produce was grown in three greenhouses at secondary schools in Qatar. Under the Khayr Qatarna initiative, Sahtak Awalan runs the greenhouses and the produce is then sold at local supermarkets. The programme also teaches students about agriculture, logistics, economics and healthy food. All profits are reinvested in the scheme.
The fruit and vegetables were grown and harvested in the last 10 months, and comprised tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and beans.
Produce includes tomatoes, cucumbers and green peppers
Strawberries are one of the new crops that are being grown
The produce from the Khayr Qatarna initiative is sold at local supermarkets
With a further greenhouse now built at seven more schools, this year’s crop is set to increase. The strategic plan is for the scheme to expand across Qatar as the profits are ploughed back into the initiative. This will see more and more schools being included in the programme, helping to fulfill Qatar National Vision 2030’s goals of sustainability and healthy future generations.
Nesreen al-Rifai, chief communications officer at Weill Cornell Medicine – Qatar, which runs Sahtak Awalan – Your Health First, said, “The success of the Khayr Qatarna greenhouses has been beyond our expectations. With the invaluable contribution of all our strategic partners, we have helped support national sustainability and provided high school students with lessons about healthy eating, agriculture, economics and logistics.”
Hassan al-Mohamedi, director, Public Relations and Communications Department at the Ministry of Education and Higher Education, said, “We are very happy to see growing health awareness among the community, which is related to the greenhouses in our schools. The collaboration between all of Your Health First’s strategic partners is an indication of the success of Sahtak Awalan – Your Health First. This success manifests itself in the way our students are taking care of their health and following good habits in order to improve the health of themselves and Qatar.”
Greenhouses are currently sited at Amna Bint Wahab School, Osama Bin Zaid, and Zainab Preparatory School for Girls. The seven new schools to have received an installation are Audio Complex for Girls, Audio Complex for Boys, Roqaya Preparatory for Girls, Khalid Bin Ahmed for Boys, Al Wajba for Girls, Al Razi for Boys, and Moza Bint Mohammed for Girls. All the greenhouses apart from one have now been planted with new crops -- including strawberries for the first time -- and the first harvests of 2019 are expected from the end of this month until mid-March.
Because the greenhouses are climate-controlled, fruits and vegetables can continue to be grown throughout the year, even during the summer months. Khayr Qatarna was officially launched last February, with the first harvest in March of last year. Since then there have been two further harvests which have supplied fresh fruit and vegetables to local supermarkets to help improve food security, increase sustainability, and encourage healthy eating.