Plans to develop 1.5mn sqm of different types of greenhouses in the next two years is expected to further boost Qatar’s agriculture sector, a prominent Qatari agriculturist told Gulf Times.

“The (agriculture) sector continues to boom and there is a gap in production that needs to be filled. These greenhouses will produce 40,000 tonnes of vegetables, as well as 33mn eggs, 350 tonnes of shrimps per year, and livestock fattening and slaughtering,” Agrico managing director Nasser Ahmed al-Khalaf explained.

Such efforts will help reduce dependence from imports, offering the public fresh, high-quality and organic produce at competitive prices, he pointed out.

Agrico, a private Qatari agricultural development company established in 2011, aims at helping the country achieve self-sufficiency.

The company developed a highly sophisticated hydroponics system capable of producing various types of organic and pesticide-free vegetables and fruits such as tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuces, green leafy vegetables, spring onion, egg plants, zucchinis, mushrooms, hot and sweet peppers, and melons, among others, all year long.

Al-Khalaf pointed out that the agriculture sector in the country has a wide area for development and expansion, especially for local farms who want to further increase their production.

He said many young Qatari entrepreneurs who are keen to invest in this sector can take advantage of this opportunity.

Al-Khalaf cited the 100,000sqm Al Waha farm near Al Khor, which is owned by a young Qatari entrepreneur, as an example, saying it was built in 2019 to produce eggplant.

“Now we are building another 100,000sqm for them also for eggplant and zucchini. Built by Agrico and managed in co-operation with Agrico. The (hydroponics) farm is 100% hydroponic and the greenhouse system does not have any type of cooling and the farm produces all year long,” he said.

He added that they also continue building similar hydroponic systems designed for backyard farming, which helps sustain every family’s vegetable needs.

About the challenges in producing during the summer period, al-Khalaf noted Agrico, like other hydroponic farms, face the same hot environment but its products can be seen in the market daily.

“Our production did not stop since 2015. We have also developed other farms which are under our management and still producing vegetables during the summer,” he said.

“We have successfully achieved our vision of producing all year long and implementing our technology and know-how in different farms around the country,” al-Khalaf added.

Such efforts are also supported by the Qatar government in various forms, including long-term leases (lands), issuance of licenses, and offering easy loans, among others.