Food security is a hot topic in Qatar these days, which is now importing more than 90 percent of its food to feed a rapidly growing population.
Though the number of people living here has doubled in the past seven years, the Gulf country still uses an outdated system of processing and distributing food to the market, the Peninsula reports.
This costs consumers greatly, in terms of both rising prices and the nutritional value of their food, suppliers assert.
They add that it’s time to improve this process, so that goods can reach consumers in a timelier and more cost-effective way.
Speaking to the Peninsula, Ali Hasan Al Khalaf, Chairman of Qatar Consumer Complexes, said:
“The country needs to develop big warehouses so that importers can source food in big volumes from the countries of origin instead of buying from second or third parties. There are not enough warehouses to support the food requirements of the current level of population as per the level of food security we are aspiring to achieve.”
“With a state-of-the-art new airport and an upcoming seaport, we cannot continue leaving the country’s food security at the mercy of others due to a lack of enough warehouses and better logistics.”
In addition to building more warehouses, businessmen recommended cutting out the middlemen.
For example, Saudi Arabia may import several types of fruits and vegetables from various countries, which Qatar may then import here – lengthening the supply chain and reducing the quality of freshness of the food.
Experts said it’s better for Qatar to source these imports directly from the country of origin – though this would require improving storage facilities to accommodate the food.
Mindful of its tenuous food security, Qatar has set a 10-year target to grow 40 percent of its own food by 2024. It is also investing in food companies and farmland abroad to shore up its stock of goods.
The Qatar National Food Security Program has been leading the charge on this initiative, and has previously discussed:
- More than doubling the number of farms in the country;
- Utilizing a variety of techniques, including open fields, greenhouses, and hydroponics; and
- Creating solar desalination plants to provide water for the agricultural ventures, and reduce reliance on Qatar’s rapidly depleting aquifers.