Qatar is aiming to grow up to 70 percent of its own vegetables by 2023 thanks to the launch of a new farming system that needs no soil and which recycles irrigation water, according to state investment company Hassad Food.
For the last two years, Qatar’s food and livestock investor has been piloting a hydroponics project to help make the arid state more self-sufficient in fresh produce.
In partnership with Oasis Agrotechnology, a consortium led by Spain’s Primalor Group, Hassad Food set up Zulal Oasis on a farm in Al Shahaniyah, west of Doha and trialled the project by growing tomatoes in greenhouses, which have been adapted to the dry and hot local weather conditions.
The greenhouses use Primaflor’s New Growing System technology, which has no soil or substrate materials and has a Dry Air Cooling System that doesn’t use water and provides no moisture.
It is “the most advanced hydroponic system in the world,” Hassad Food said in a statement.
The efficiency of the new system will enable Qatar to become between 50 and 70 percent self-sufficient in the production of vegetables by 2023, a Hassad Food spokesperson told Doha News.
As a desert nation with a growing population, Qatar imports the vast majority of its food. However, this leaves it vulnerable to fluctuations in global prices and supply disruption.
Authorities have been trying to tackle the state’s food security through a number of projects aimed at boosting production at home and abroad, to help Qatar become more self-sufficient.
Hassad Food’s Chairman and Managing Director Nasser Mohamed Al Hajri said the pilot project had been “a great success” and adapted well to Qatar’s harsh growing conditions.
“It also exceeded expectations regarding the yield and quality, producing more than 37 kilograms per sqm of highest quality European Standard,” he said.
In addition to growing vegetables, the system can also be used for fruit and flower production.
Describing the technology as “a long-term sustainable production model,” Al Hajri said it could produce high-grade crops throughout the year, even during the scorching desert summers.
The dry cooling technology is described as an automated smart control system that controls the temperature inside the greenhouses, regardless of the weather outside, eliminating many of the climate challenges farmers in this region face such as high humidity, heat and a lack of groundwater.
Hassad Food said the Zulal Oasis system is cost-effective for farmers, as production costs would be lower than importing the same quality of fresh produce.
And it enables farmers to diversify the crops they grow according to local demand.
In addition to the greenhouses, crops can also be planted outdoors using the hydroponic technology, although the growing season is limited to the cooler months.
Produce which could grow well under cover includes peppers (capsicums), strawberries, herbs and flowers in addition to tomatoes.
Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, corn, courgette (zucchini), mangoes and citrus fruit would be suited to being grown using the system outdoors, Qatar Tribune said.
Hassad Food is in talks on sharing its technology with investors in Saudi Arabia and Oman, Bloomberg quotes Zulal Oasis Director Hamad Hadi Al Hajri as saying.
And the technology is now being licensed for local farmers to use, with an open day planned at the research site on Thursday.
The system is expected to be used on up to 1,000 hectares of land by 2023. The Ministry of Economy and Commerce will start floating tenders for the first 400 hectares of land by the end of this year, with the remainder to follow by an undisclosed date, Qatar Tribune reports.
Qatar has already increase the amount of food grown at home, particularly dates, cucumbers and green peppers, in part due to an expansion in cultivated land since 2009.
However, the largest increase by far has been in fodder for livestock, which coincided with a dramatic jump in red meat and dairy product production, according to the latest agricultural report from the Ministry of Development Planning and Statistics (MDPS) released in May this year.
A subsidiary of sovereign wealth fund Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), Hassad Food has been making investments and buying up land abroad to help address the state’s food production shortfall.
It also has the Roza Hassad flower production facilities in Al Shehaniya, which were opened by the Emir in 2012 and use hydroponics to grow up to 20,000 flowers daily in 100 varieties.
This is a good initiative. Food security is going to become more and more important to coming generations.
Are you going to comment on every new topic in order to keep plugging your personal website?
Of course! But let’s be fair, everyone is entitled to their own opinions no matter how bland.
Much better to be a anonymous contrarian, hiding behind a keyboard and finding fault with everything and anything for the sake of being controversial, eh?
#onlyindoha my dear…..
Resident trolls !Let em be. And that plug does work better as part of your signature 😉 !
Is that any worse than being a self-promoting, hand-wringing idealist?
Yeah, I think it is.
An idealist is someone who believes we can shape our own construction of reality. I refuse to hate Qatar, and I refuse to hate Qataris. I will not tar 300,000+ people with one brush (especially when I’ve met so many that don’t fit the mould) I see the problems here (I’m not blind) but I believe people who come here and do nothing but complain contribute to the problem, not the solution. I practice gratitude, and most expats in Doha have plenty to be grateful for here.
Self-promoting? Fine, if a URL at the end of my posts bothers you so much, I’ll stop doing it – but you’ve really got very little to worry about if that’s all that’s bothering you!
I wouldn’t say it bothered me, but i understand sullyofdoha’s comment. MIMH comments on many-a-post, and i’ll quite happily skim what the comments is.
However with a link at the bottom of a comment (that isn’t in relation to the article or associated comments), then in my opinion it devalues the comment and means i would often skip over it. So in defense of others, i have also thought the same as sullyofdoha.
I would also like to say that in my opinion i think your comments might be quite sprightly and worth a skim. From the way these comments have escalated from someone asking if you are “going to comment on every new topic in order to keep plugging your personal website”, to you refusing to “tar(nish) 300,000+ people” but then tarnishing 2mil others in the same sentence. Hahahahahah. Don’t get me wrong, i know you didn’t tarnish all the 2mil, but i don’t know if anyone has undertaken the survey of the number of people who come here and do nothing but complain? 😛
My comment is a direct reply to Anon, and is no reflection on anyone else – so no need for a survey!
I see SullyOfDoha’s point (and yours) – that’s why I’ve stopped doing it. I thought that people who read this website might also be interested in reading mine (and I still believe they are, a lot of people click the link) but since it annoys others, I won’t be doing it any more unless I have something particularly relevant to link to.
I have no issue with anyone disagreeing with that, or asking me to stop – I just find MIMH and Anon to be unnecessarily harsh with their words. But that’s what happens online sometimes. As you and SoD have shown, it’s possible to make the point without being an ar$ehole.
Why do u sign ur name after every post? It says who you are at the top.
I’ll give you a free tip. If your link isn’t directly related to what you’re talking about, and you post your link constantly and regardless of its relevance, than google will punish you for it badly. On average expect to lose 30-60 places in search rankings on google. For other amazing SEO tips, visit willsamazingseotips.awesome! 😀
Hi Will. Thanks for the tip, I’m clueless on SEO. Out of interest, is that still true if the link is getting lots of clicks?
For every moaner about the URL in my signature, there were dozens of people clicking the link and my bounce rate dropped by a fair amount?
Hi Katie, yes it’s still true, even if you have google analytics on your website. What you’re doing can be seen as manipulating search results, they don’t like that. But equally you could get more traffic through posting your link everywhere than you ever would through a search index anyway.
Very good….lots of hope for the future.
what an amazing project
This is a good idea, soil free hydroponics which could even be used in future for space flight. A good place to invest your money and become world leaders. (Much better idea than the guys from Kerala that were going to make the desert bloom and in the process cause environmental havoc)
I love it when Qatar does something constructive. When I see them doing something productive, I get hope. But I hardly believe they will ever become world leaders in anything.
With, I think around $500m of imported food spoiling before it reaches the shelves in Qatar, any initiative that can boost local production is a great step forward.
Here’s something hydroponically grown for when the gas runs out………very lucrative, I hear.
You can run landcruisers on that stuff? Incredibles!
I was under the impression that Qatar had recently scaled back their domestic food production program, and now this pops up. Does anyone know what is going on?