They (Hassad Food) are doing some revolutionary smart business. But we have to ask the question “does that equate to food security?”
Jonathan Smith, Senior Adviser at the Qatar National Food Security Programme, (QNFSP) on Hassad Food’s claim to be capable of meeting 60 percent of Qatar’s food and livestock demands.
One of the government’s top advisors on food security has cast some doubt on claims made by Hassad Food, the agricultural investment arm of Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund, that it can provide much of the country’s nutritional needs by investing in food production companies around the world.
Jonathan Smith, a Senior Adviser at the Qatar National Food Security Programme, has told the Peninsula that although Hassad Food’s activities are “good business,” he doesn’t believe they amount to total food security for Qatar:
“There are differences in investments that are being made for commercial reasons and investments being made for strategic reasons.”
Qatar currently imports 90 percent of its food, making it extremely vulnerable to price and supply volatility worldwide.
Food security plan
Smith reveals that Qatar’s National Plan for Food Security should be presented to the Emir in the next couple of months.
Three years in the making, it’s been put together by a team of international experts who’ve conducted field trips in 80 different countries.
Instead of investing in foreign farm land, the plan aims to bolster Qatar’s native agricultural industry, boosting it from its current capacity of 8 percent to a point where it can provide 40-60 percent of the country’s food needs.
The plan also includes suggestions of how Qatar can protect itself from food price volatility, how it can maintain the nutritional quality of its produce, and how its farms can become successful, profitable businesses, Smith says.
He has also called for new desalination plants to be built, dedicated entirely to the agricultural sector. He believes that an inadequate supply of water is the primary problem the country’s farmers face.
Credit: Photo by Johnk57