Texas A&M University at Qatar (TAMUQATAR) hosted a delegation of agriculture experts from its main campus in Texas, US, to visit Baladna Food Industries, Qatar’s largest producer of fresh dairy, as well as to explore opportunities for collaboration.
“Coming to a facility such as the farm at Baladna is a unique opportunity for us to work in a very difficult environment,” said Dr Dave Lunt, associate of Texas A&M Agrilife Research, who was part of the visiting research team. “The heat and humidity here make it very difficult to run a productive dairy because the cows would prefer to be in a more temperate climate. What we learn here can then be applied in Texas and also in other places where we work. This was a wonderful opportunity to get to see an amazing world-class dairy, one the likes of which I’ve never personally experienced. To see something go from conception to be a fully operating dairy at the scale at which they operate in just over 18 months is nothing short of amazing.”
Dr Kamel Abdallah, CEO, Baladna, said: “The visit by Texas A&M team was productive as it identified several important areas of possible collaboration between Baladna and Texas A&M. We believe our collaborative work could become a model for industry-research institutions and joint activities that enhance the competitiveness of Qatar, as well as our organisations.”
The Texas contingent also included two faculty members from the Department of Animal Science in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Texas A&M - Dr G Cliff Lamb, professor and department head and Dr Clare Gill, professor of animal genomics. The team’s focus during their visit was to see if they could bring their agricultural expertise to bear on some of the challenges that Baladna is facing as it grows.
“I think it’s amazing that the owners of Baladna had the audacity to build such a remarkable dairy in a country that doesn’t produce feed for dairy cattle. If you have cows, you have to feed them every day, all year round. So the logistical challenge has been a fascinating piece to me because that supply chain cannot fail,” Gill noted.
“A major challenge that we don’t get to deal with anywhere else in the world is the fact that everything that they have to do is imported. Baladna is truly a global business when you look at it. The cattle are being fed products from all over the world, and that’s not something we are generally exposed to when we have a large cattle operation in the US,” Lamb said.
In addition to research, Gill said she sees many opportunities for Texas A&M agriculture students as well as workforce development that could be mutually beneficial to Baladna, Texas A&M and Texas A&M University at Qatar.
“One aspect that would be a tremendous opportunity for our students is working with the very diverse cultures that are present in Baladna and in the country,” Gill said. “Their workforce is made up of maybe 40 different countries speaking many different languages, and I think that is something that would be tremendous for our students to experience.”
Lunt also said having the Qatar branch campus here presents an opportunity for facilitating teaching, research and service collaborations between Texas A&M and Baladna. "Having engineers here will be a great benefit to us if we do develop a robust agricultural research programme here.”
The visit was organised by Dr Hassan S Bazzi, associate dean for research at Texas A&M at Qatar, who said: “Texas A&M University has expertise and experience in a wide variety of areas, from engineering and agriculture to veterinary medicine and beyond. Our branch campus here in Qatar is uniquely positioned to engage local industry, community and government and leverage the expertise available on our main campus for the benefit of Qatar, its economy and its people.”Last updated: May 18 2019 09:57 PM
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