Qatar’s progress in food security since the blockade was declared against the country in June 2017 is something miraculous in such a short time, a senior official of a Qatar Foundation entity has said.
“The progress achieved by Qatar towards becoming a food-secure country in a record time is nothing short of a miracle and it is manifested by several indicators,” stated, Dr Abdul Sattar al-Taie, executive director, Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF).
Quoting a recent publication in world food index, Dr al-Taie told Gulf Times that Qatar has jumped into top positions in several areas of food security
“For example, in just two years, Qatar’s self-sufficiency in dairy products has increased from 27% to 106%, and from 49% to 123% in the fresh poultry sector. The Global Food Security Index, published in December 2019, which quantifies food security in terms of affordability, availability, quality, and safety across a set of 113 countries, ranked Qatar as the country with the 13th most favourable food security index,” he explained.
“Now Qatar has been ranked ahead of Denmark, Belgium, France and the UK. The same index, if looked at from regional perspective, ranks Qatar in the first place in the Mena region,” he continued.
He also noted that QNRF funded a limited number of food related research projects before the blockade on Qatar.
“However, these projects dealt with miscellaneous themes related to food science and food technologies with the main aim to build local capacity and know-how of food security. Therefore, most of the outcome is academically oriented in form of knowledge production like journal papers,” he noted.
QNRF had launched a food security call in collaboration with the Ministry of Municipality and Environment (MME) in 2019 to address the grand challenge of food security in Qatar. The second cycle of this joint call will be announced soon.
“The new cycle aims to boost the local food production in four priority areas, namely; local supply chain, technology to accelerate the development of highly productive and healthy animals, including combating epidemic diseases; technology to accelerate local production of high-quality vegetables and sustainable aquaculture,” Dr al-Taie highlighted.
“These projects will be running ideally for three years on average. However, we envisage that there will be some tangible results emerging within the first and second year as our researchers are benefiting from excellent infrastructure related to food production,” he hoped.
In the first cycle of the food security call, QNRF had received 48 proposals, of which 46 were selected for the evaluation process. “Out of these, nine proposals were awarded after a competitive review process. Five of the awards went to researchers at Qatar University, 3 to HBKU and 1 to TAMU-Q. These winning proposals focused on a multitude of themes including aquaculture, vegetable production, protected agriculture, and the use of advanced technology to enhance local food production,” said the official.
“Each one of these proposals tackles important aspects of Food sustainability in Qatar from several angles. In fact, topics such as aquaculture, local food production and the use of advanced technology are perfectly in line with the food security strategy adopted by Qatar in 2018. The idea is to reduce reliance on import and increase dependence on locally produced quality food, making use of state-of-the-art facilities available in Qatar. This ensures sustainability in the long run and eliminates risks related to availability, price fluctuation, supply chain, and geopolitics,” he added.