Qatar's first water saving greenhouse pilot project was officially launched Tuesday at Hassad's farm in Al Sheehaniya, in a ceremony attended by Crown Prince Haakon of Norway, Torbjorn Roe Isaksen, Norway's Minister of Trade and Industry, the chief executive officers of Hassad and technology partner Yara along with other Norwegian and Qatari officials.
The greenhouse was engineered by Yara International ASA (Norway) and developed in collaboration with Hassad Food, Qatar Fertiliser Company (Qafco), Wageningen University and executed in partnership with Trane Qatar, Jiffy, Hoogendoorn and MST Holland.
Crown Prince Haakon of Norway Torbjørn Røe Isaksen (Norway’s Minister of Trade and Industry), the chief executive officers of Hassad and Yara along with other Norwegian and Qatari officials planting tomato saplings in the greenhouse
Hassad's green house at Al Shahaniya
Hassad Chief Executive Officer Mohamed Badr al-Sadah said: "It is our pleasure to be part of this partnership, and to jointly conduct this pilot project in one of our greenhouses at Al Sheehaniya, as we are committed to support the local agricultural sector."
Explaining the idea behind the project, he said: "When we implement an innovative water saving system and apply the tailored fertiliser recipes in the pilot greenhouse, we will be able to increase production by 20 times the average in Qatar and reduce the water consumption by 90%, which will certainly contribute to local agricultural development."
Qafco Chief Executive Officer Abdulrahman al-Suwaidi added: "Qafco is proud to support such initiatives in line with Qatar's Food Security objective."
Head of Yara Middle East at Yara International, Ivan De Witte commented: "Such goals will be achieved by employing state-of-the-art crop nutrition and climate management systems that enable precise control of nutrients and greenhouse environment and therefore provide the ideal growth conditions for the crop."
The climate in the greenhouse is regulated by the air conditioning system and completely independent of the outside weather. The closed cycle of air re-circulation allows recovery of water from evapotranspiration of the plants through dehumidification. Recovered water then will be re-used for irrigation of the plants.
As part of the opening ceremony, Norwegian and Qatari officials as well as business representatives planted tomato seedlings in the pilot greenhouse.
The Norwegian officials are in the country to participate in the 50th anniversary celebrations of Qafco.
Karina Enikeeva, manager of Yara’s farming excellence programme in Qatar said the greenhouse is an innovative pilot project. "Our aim is to help Qatar farmers produce more with fewer resources,” she said.
The water saving pilot greenhouse has 400 tomato plants and the new technology will be implemented in more farms if it is proven a success.
“We are keen to look into the results. Further action will be decided based on the outcome at Hassad’s greenhouse,” said Dr Faleh bin Naser al-Thani, Assistant Undersecretary for Agriculture and Fisheries Affairs at the Ministry of Municipality and Environment.
The pilot period is for one year and the first tomato harvesting will be done after three months.
“We are celebrating 50 years of our partnership with the State of Qatar through our shareholding in Qafco. Today we are making another important step in our continued commitment. We are very proud of the first results of our collaboration with Hassad and Qafco in developing this project. We sincerely look forward to demonstrating significant innovations in knowledge and solutions that will make Qatari agriculture more efficient and sustainable”, said Svein Tore Holsether, president and CEO of Yara International ASA.