Assistant director of the Agricultural Affairs Department at the Ministry of Municipality and Environment (MME) Adel al-Kaldi al-Yafei affirmed the ministry's role in supporting the prices of local vegetables and its continuous work to enhance the value of the local product and improve marketing methods for farm owners, through a package of proposed programmes and initiatives.
In a press statement, al-Yafei said that the ministry had launched many marketing initiatives that farms can benefit from, such as opening direct marketing outlets like the Qatari agricultural product yards with five distribution yards in various parts of the country and had been operating since 2012.
They are Al Mazrouah, Al Khor-Al Thakhira, Al Wakra, Al Shamal and Al Sheehaniya, with the aim of providing farmers with an opportunity to sell their products directly to consumers without an intermediary or commission, he said, adding that this has contributed to improving the marketing method, reducing vegetable losses, improving production quality and selling prices of farm owners' products.
He added that the number of farms benefiting from this initiative during this season amounted to about 159.
Since the beginning of the current season that started at the end of October 2020 until the end of February 2021, the amount of vegetable sales has reached about 8,000 tonnes, an increase of about 34% compared to the same period of the previous season, he added.
Al-Yafei added that the Premium Qatari Vegetables programme was launched in 2017 and the Qatar Farms programme in 2018, which were launched by the ministry in co-operation with the Ministry of Commerce and Industry in order to link farm owners with large sales outlets in the country.
The number of farms participating in the two programs is about 150 farms, he said.
In the first two months of 2021, they marketed about 7,000 tonnes in all consumer complexes, which contributed to distributing the supply to various marketing outlets and improving the value of the offered products and selling prices, he added.
He pointed out that the ministry has implemented a pre-contracting programme with farmers (Daman) in co-operation with Mahaseel for Marketing and Agricultural Services Company, in a manner that ensures that all contracting farmers obtain appropriate prices for the products supplied to the company within this program.
The number of farms registered in the Daman programme during this season has reached about 70 farms, he said, adding the total quantity supplied during the period from December 2020 to February 2021 was about 2,359 tonnes of vegetables, with a total value of purchases amounting to QR11.8mn, and an average purchase price estimated at about QR5 per kg, which is considered a very appropriate price during the season, while noting that the percentage of farmers' fulfillment of their shares of this program did not exceed 40%.
Al-Yafei pointed out that the daily supply programme was launched by the ministry in co-operation with Mahaseel, through which the owners of all farms supplying the company are given prices that achieve a higher profit margin for them than the auction prices in the central market ranging between 10-15% of the auction price for the most important vegetables, in addition to setting a minimum price for the most important food commodities to be adopted in the event that auction prices drop to levels below the minimum.
He noted that the price given by Mahaseel has maintained this price even in light of the low prices, noting that all the quantities supplied by farmers in conformity with the specifications are purchased without returning any consignments, and they are bought at prices higher than the market price.
In the context of enhancing the value of the local product of vegetables, the Mahaseel company stopped supplying its products to the central market in order to maintain better prices.
Within the framework of activating the agricultural calendar, he said that the Ministry of Municipality and Environment has, during the last period, published guidelines for farm owners to direct them to organise the production process, as it has been observed that farmers focus on producing specific varieties in abundance during the months of the season, without taking into account the diversification of their production and the prolongation of the season, which will bring them a remunerative return, he said, adding the Ministry, in co-operation with the Food Safety and Environmental Health Department at the Ministry of Public Health, monitors the quality of imported vegetables as well as the local ones, by applying the Gulf standard specifications approved in this regard, to meet the aspirations and needs of consumers.
For his part, General Manager of Mahaseel Mohamed Ali al-Ghaithani said the company had marketed about 9mn kilos of vegetables in the local market since the beginning of this year with a purchase value of about QR29mn, an average price of about QR3 per kg, through marketing the production of farmers registered with the company.
The number of farmers exceeds 350 productive farms, and the products were marketed through 95 outlets in the country, he added.
Al-Ghaithani stressed that the services provided by the company to farmers aim to motivate them to increase local production and improve its quality by helping with marketing process in order to support the efforts of the concerned institutions to achieve self-sufficiency.