Qatar’s agriculture sector continues to be “extremely active” amid the novel coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak, producing more fresh and organic vegetables and fruits, prominent Qatari agriculturist Nasser Ahmed al-Khalaf has said.
“There is no effect of coronavirus on the production. At this moment, Qatar’s production is at its peak,” he told Gulf Times.
Al-Khalaf expressed confidence that Qatar’s agricultural production will witness a substantial increase this year due to the growing number of commercial farms in the country despite the Covid-19 crisis.
He noted that a series of meetings have been held between public and private sectors aimed at further boosting the agriculture sector and self-sufficiency efforts of Qatar. “Whether through the Katara farmers forum, Qatar Chamber, food security committees or the Ministry of Municipality and Environment, all want to ensure the safety and continuity of farm production,” said al-Khalaf, who is also the managing director of Agrico. Agrico, a private Qatari agricultural development company established in 2011, produces organic vegetables and fruits year-round at its 120,000sq m farm near Al Khor, and aims to help Qatar achieve food security.
Besides vegetables such as cucumber, lettuce, egg-plant, zucchini, hot and sweet pepper, and tomatoes, the farm is now producing fruits such as melon, watermelon, papaya and banana, as well as other green leafy vegetables, among others, using hydroponics all year-long.
Qatar’s daily consumption reaches around 600 tonnes of vegetables and 400 tonnes of fruits, which can be achieved locally by operating 6-8mn sq m of greenhouses, it is learnt. Several local farms, particularly Agrico, are continuously supplying major hypermarkets and supermarkets across Qatar with a wide variety of fresh produce to meet the growing demand.
With more people becoming interested to invest, al-Khalaf noted that Qatar’s agriculture sector is booming and continues to see significant gains year-on-year and poised to expand further in the near future. He also expressed confidence that Qatar’s annual local vegetable production of 40mn kg will continue to increase. “We just need to be more cautious in terms of hygiene and cross contamination to stop spreading the virus,” he said, highlighting the importance of safety and cleanliness in preparing the products for distribution. Al-Khalaf also assured consumers in the country that there will be enough fruits and vegetables in the market.
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