The Ministry of Municipality and Environment (MME) has affirmed that Qatar is pursuing an ambitious policy to promote local agricultural products, adding that the structural changes in the farming sector is in line with the strategic objectives of the development plans.
In a speech to mark Arab Agriculture Day, which falls on Sept 27 every year and is held this year under the slogan 'towards resilient agriculture and food systems responsive to changes', Director of Agriculture Affairs Department Yusuf Khalid al-Khulaifi said that plans are under way to bring about a real change in the agricultural economic structure via diversifying the local production base with a focus on the optimal use and preservation of natural resources, improving economic and marketing efficiency, and continuing to improve the quality of local crops in a manner that achieves environmental balance, and prepares the sector to deal flexibly and efficiently with local, regional and international developments.
A greenhouse by MME
Marketing initiatives by MME
Distribution of beehives to farms
Al-Khulaifi said that the ministry followed an ambitious policy to advance local production and set goals by supporting farmers and investors in the agricultural sector by providing advice and guidance, granting loans and support for productive inputs of seeds and pesticides, providing farms destined for organic agriculture and providing beehives for free to farm owners.
In addition, the owners of private farms have been supported by finding solutions to the challenges they face, such as heat, high humidity, scarcity and poor water quality, as the ministry encouraged the transformation of farms from traditional irrigation systems to modern ones, by granting farms Qatar Development Bank soft loans, with an interest of 1-1.5% only, to be repaid over eight years.
Al-Khulaifi added that the ministry focused on localising greenhouse technology in Qatari farms, as an effective way to increase the production of vegetables on Qatari farms on the one hand, and reduce water consumption and raise unit productivity on the other hand, while recent years have witnessed a significant increase in the areas planted with greenhouses, as it was 520 hectares in 2019 and became 645 hectares, an increase of 125 hectares, which is estimated at 24%.
He indicated that the ministry has also worked to improve the local marketing of Qatari farms by introducing initiatives that aim to make the local farms' supplies of vegetables of all kinds more accessible to markets and malls, and to enable farm owners to obtain fair prices for their products.
The ministry provided the opportunity for a larger number of Qatari farms to participate in the Qatari agricultural product yards.
The distinctive Qatari vegetable marketing programme and the Qatar Farms initiative were launched in co-operation with Consumer Protection at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, which aims to market Qatari vegetables within consumer complexes in a distinctive manner that ensures increased demand for these products, creating a growing demand for Qatari products that will be an incentive for them and to increase their production of vegetables.
The Agricultural Marketing and Services Center (Mahaseel) has also been established for the purpose of marketing the products of Qatari farms.
He stressed that the ministry's Department of Agricultural Affairs pays great attention to organic farming, due to its great competitive advantage in the Qatari market.
Nine Qatari farms are using the organic production method, and five of them are currently marketing their production of organic vegetables in the Qatari market, while another is preparing to register for organic farming.
Al-Khulaifi added that in order to protect the country's agricultural production from the risk of pests and diseases, the Agricultural Affairs Department is subjecting all plants, agricultural products and other materials to phytosanitary regulations to agricultural quarantine procedures, noting that this great development in the sector came as a result of Qatar's great interest in expanding production and encouraging local producers, which contributed to achieving sustainable development for the sector.
He explained that the Arab Agriculture Day aims to draw the attention of the Arab world to adopting agricultural policies that would develop the agricultural sector and increase production, while calling for emphasising the importance of preparing a strategy for Arab agricultural development, with the aim of achieving food security, as well as fruitful cooperation between Arab countries to reach the goal.
This is in addition to the importance of providing training programmes and specialised studies scientifically and practically to raise the efficiency of workers in this field.
Al-Khulaifi praised the efforts made by the Arab Organisation for Agricultural Development as a house of expertise to support the efforts of Arab countries in the agricultural field by providing experts, specialised studies and technical advice to overcome the obstacles that Arab agriculture may face, stressing that the participation of Qatar in the celebration of this occasion stems from its firm conviction of the importance of agriculture, and its vital role in the consolidation and advancement of civilizations of nations.