HE the Minister of Municipality and Environment Abdullah bin Abdulaziz bin Turki al-Subaie has said US firms could play a key role in helping Qatar in its efforts to address the challenges of water scarcity, greenhouse farming, according to a US-Qatar Business Council (USQBC) report.
The ‘Business Opportunity Report: Qatar’s Food Security’ was prepared by the USQBC, which recently released the print edition of the report to provide essential information for American companies interested in doing business in Qatar’s food security sector.
Speaking on the role of US companies in helping Qatar achieve its food security goals, al-Subaie said the ministry “will always cherish the US-Qatar relationship,” adding that “a number of talks” had been held about the possible co-operation or opportunities for US businesses.
“One of Qatar’s foremost challenges is water scarcity. We are conscious that we need to always adapt to the latest technologies in relation to water preservation, especially in the agriculture sector. Right now, we are highly reliant on groundwater and we do not see that as being sustainable.
“Because of our climate, we are also utilising greenhouse farming and are interested in using the newest technologies. We would certainly welcome US investors with technological abilities in these two areas specifically,” said al-Subaie in the report.
He also said Qatar would also be interested in increasing the efficiency of local production through tools and technology, and that he sees “many opportunities” for companies to have good business in the country. Technology transfer, research, genetics, and biological controls, among others “are all areas where we’d see ripe opportunities for collaboration,” he noted.
“From a more commercial perspective, I also see great opportunities in supplying green fodder and frozen meats to Qatar. One of the most important upcoming opportunities that I would point to would be in relation to the strategic stock facility at Hamad Port, which will be finished by the end of the year. “The facility is huge and we believe that the private sector needs to use that facility as a hub for stocking goods and/or supply the Qatar market and larger region.
This would be a great opportunity to work with the local private sector to operate and manage these strategic stock facilities,” the minister pointed out.
In the report, al-Subaie also provided an account of Qatar’s food security journey, citing the four main pillars of the Qatar National Food Security Strategy: international trade and logistics, enabling domestic markets, domestic self-sufficiency, and strategic reserves.
He said under these four pillars are many initiatives and projects that are “ongoing, upcoming, or have already been achieved,” adding that Qatar has made “some major strides already” towards achieving Qatar’s food security.
“We have almost doubled our local production capacity from our agriculture sector. We used to have a 15% capacity, now we’ve reached 30%, and we are heading to the target of 70% three years down the road.
“Similarly, before the blockade, we had less than 20% self-sufficiency of dairy products, but now we are completely self-sufficient.
For red meat, we’ve increased our capacity by almost 60% and have increased our green fodder capacity by almost 30% so far,” al-Subaie said.
He added: “We’re also working on our strategic stock facility on the port of Hamad to stock wheat, rice, edible oil, and sugar, which will be sufficient for two years for the whole State of Qatar. We’ve also diversified our international business with many countries with different supply rules to ensure and strengthen our imported food security.
“At the market level, we have recently established a company called Mahaseel, which works as an intermediary to guarantee the purchase of all crops from farmers at a certain price. This will ensure that all their output production can be marketed on the local market at a fair and reasonable price.”