Qatar farm owners warned to grow food on land, not run side businesses
Amid Qatar’s efforts to reduce its dependence on imported food, the government is cracking down on the use of farmland for reasons other than farming, Al Arab reports.
The news comes as Qatar prepares for legislation (Law Number 2 of 2013) that was passed earlier this year imposing stricter penalties on violators to take effect next month, the newspaper said.
After the grace period expires at the end of May, those found using farms for purposes other than farming, i.e. as hideouts for runaway workers, automobile workshops, labor camps, photo studios, gymnasiums or restaurants, could be served a six-month jail term and/or a fine of QR100,000.
The Peninsula translates:
The government allots land in arable areas of the country for farming and provides financial and other support as part of its plans to boost local agricultural production but the effort seems to be in vain.
There are an estimated 1,400 farms in the country and the Ministry of Environment’s agricultural department late last year detected some 71 of them that were found misusing the land.
Meanwhile, Qatar’s food needs are rising faster than any other country in the Gulf. But last year, the nation produced only 7 percent of what was consumed within its borders, the GCC Food Industry Report found in March.
Qatar has established a National Food Security Program that it hopes will all but eliminate its dependency on imports within the next decade or so, but only 6 percent of the country’s land is farmable. Thus, the jury is still out on whether Qatar’s ambitious plan will work.
Credit: Photo by Enda Nasution