In an effort to shore up Qatar’s food supplies, Hassad Food, the agricultural investment arm of Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund, has bought a majority stake in India’s Bush Foods Overseas.
The company specializes in basmati rice and spices, and Qatar’s $500 million investment is targeted at the production of rice, coffee, cardamom and “ready-made foods,” Hassad Food Chairman Nasser Mohammed al-Hajri told the Peninsula.
Qatar currently imports 90 percent of its food. Hassad said the acquisition of Bush is just part of its global strategy to meet at least 60 percent of Qatar’s food requirements, no mean feat for a country whose population is expanding at an unprecedented rate.
So far, the company has invested in Australia, Asia and Africa, buying farm land and food production companies. They’re now also looking at business opportunities in North America, South America and Europe, journalists were told at a press conference yesterday.
To give you an idea of the current scale of investment, the company’s Australian farms produce 10,000 sheep per year, and their farms worldwide produce 15,000 tons of grain and 26,000 tons of rice annually.
Hassad is also investing closer to home, aiming to boost local fruit and vegetable production. It’s running a pilot project with the support of a Spanish company in Shahaniya, al-Hajri says.
Hassad Food is part of the Qatar’s National Food Security Programme’s (QNFSP) “Task force” of organisations working to shore up the country’s food supply. As well as securing food production abroad, the QNFSP has also pledged to make Qatar’s food industry self-sufficient within 12 years, investing heavily in Qatar-based agriculture.
Credit: Photo by Adam Jones