LuLu Group has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with a Russian company to study and bring vertical farming to Qatar, aimed at helping the country achieve food security, director Dr Mohamed Althaf has said.
The signing took place at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) 2021, held from June 2 to 5 in Russia, according to Dr Althaf, who was part of the Qatari delegation.
“We are now negotiating with a Russian company if they can bring their expertise, so if they come, we want to start a pilot project with them in Qatar,” he explained on the sidelines of the first-ever Georgian Food Festival, inaugurated at LuLu Hypermarket, Al Messila on June 9.
Highlighting the importance of self-sufficiency and “sustainability from a water conservation perspective,” Althaf said they agreed to study and possibly adopt vertical farming “if everything goes well (with the negotiation).”
“Going through all of their due diligence of the technology, if suitable, we will proceed with them,” he said.
According to Dr Althaf, LuLu Group is also discussing with another Russian company to establish a plastic recycling facility in Qatar, apart from another negotiation with a third (software) company “that will help us to kind of make our business more automated.”
About its e-commerce operations, he said LuLu Hypermarkets continues to expand its digital presence aimed at serving a growing number of customers amid the Covid-19 situation.
“We are expanding, I think we have experienced a growth of 200% in our online (operations) so we think some of these customer behaviour will remain as it is now,” Dr Althaf noted, adding that they will “very soon” set up an automated fulfillment centre in Qatar as part of its next project.
Vouching for the quality of Georgian fresh produce and food products, he also announced plans to open a packing facility in Georgia once the Covid-19 pandemic is over, and start bringing various goods to Qatar directly.
With an excellent climate for farming, Georgia produces many organic food such as fruits and vegetables, which can be shipped to Qatar in two-and-a-half hours, Dr Althaf added.
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