Qatar’s self-sufficiency efforts in food production got a further boost as the agriculture sector remained unaffected by the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, prominent Qatari agriculturist Nasser Ahmed al-Khalaf has said.

Speaking to Gulf Times, he expressed confidence that “extremely active” vegetable and dairy production in the country in these difficult times will substantially increase and achieve 100% of the local demand.

“Some years ago we used to say Qatar agriculture (vegetable production in particular) is below the red line. That was the main reason we established Agrico,” said al-Khalaf, adding that there had been less marketing efforts back then.

“However, we have seen lots of development in this sector and new rules and regulations emerged to support local production, including investments from the private sector,” he pointed out.

Apart from fresh vegetables and fruits, from tomato, cucumber and zucchini to eggplant, broccoli and other green leafy vegetables, demand for locally-produced dairy and poultry products such as milk, cheese, yogurt, and eggs, among others, continues to increase significantly.

Qatar farms, especially Agrico, are extremely active amid the pandemic

Hypermarkets also put up more shelves and dedicated areas for local products in most of their stores to meet the growing demand.

Al-Khalaf, who is also the founder and managing director of Agrico, noted that Qatar now has a surplus of dairy and poultry products, as well as an increasing vegetable production.

Agrico, a private Qatari agricultural development company established in 2011, produces organic vegetables and fruits the year round in Al Khor.

It expanded its high-tech and locally developed greenhouse to other farms in the country under its management.

While there is a need to focus on producing fresh fruits and vegetables locally, including table eggs and fish, al-Khalaf pointed out that other items such as grains, pulses, edible oil, raw sugar, salt and animal fodder have to be imported and stored in high tech silos.

This, he explained, aims to preserve these products at the longest period possible for local food manufacturing such as pasta, noodles, biscuits, and cooking oil production.

“With such strategy, we can achieve self-sufficiency in local production and food security. I think we are moving in the right path and this will be achieved in no time,” al-Khalaf added.

Qatar farms, especially Agrico, are extremely active amid the pandemic.