The second edition of the ongoing Local Dates Festival comes as part of Qatar’s keen interest in supporting and encouraging national products.
The festival is also in line with the efforts of the State to achieve food security and its eagerness to develop the agricultural sector.
The 10-day festival got under way at Souq Waqif on Thursday and was inaugurated by HE the Minister of Municipality and Environment Mohamed bin Abdullah al-Rumaihi.
Being attended by some 57 local farms, the festival has been organised by the agricultural sector at the Ministry of Municipality and Environment (MME) with the patronage of the Souq Waqif management.
A wide variety of dates are on offer at the festival.
In a press statement on the sidelines of the festival, HE al-Rumaihi said based on the directives of His Highness the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani and HE the Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa al-Thani, the MME is supporting farmers and organising such festivals - and will continue to distinguish them year after year in terms of the quantity and quality of production, the official Qatar News Agency (QNA) reported.
He stressed that the ministry supports farmers through providing seeds, medicines, care and advice, indicating that the MME always encourages farmers and the private sector to turn their land into productive farms that benefit the country and contribute to food security.
Qatari farmers began their season earlier this summer instead of the usual September-end/early October.
A view of the festival venue
The push to the agricultural sector includes supporting farmers and those interested in cultivating fresh dates, promoting date varieties towards achieving “greater excellence” and competitiveness locally and internationally, and encouraging farmers to pay attention to the quality of fresh dates production, according to QNA. These are in addition to raising awareness among farmers on the modern techniques of planting and caring for palm trees, as well as cementing the status of the festival as an annual occasion to exchange expertise among farmers.
Further, HE al-Rumaihi stressed the eagerness of the State in increasing production and encouraging farmers to expand their product lineups, noting that the State is interested in all these aspects. He also highlighted the role of Qatar Development Bank in supporting farmers to increase livestock and fish production in the country.
On his part, Assistant Undersecretary for Agriculture and Fisheries Affairs at the MME Sheikh Dr Faleh bin Nasser al-Thani said the State is self-sufficient in dates production – accounting for 84% - and this is expected to increase further to 95% in line with a short-term plan. The country’s date stock is enough for two years, he added.
Sheikh Dr Faleh said Qatar now produces 20,000 palm seedlings a year, and there are plans to increase this to 50,000 seedlings for high-quality varieties of dates.
Masoud Jarallah al-Marri, director of the Agricultural Research Department at the MME, said the department is continuing to develop “textile agriculture” and is also interested in privatising the productive part of this type of agriculture so that the private sector is more productive.
The festival aims to encourage registered farm owners to showcase and market their dates through the development of marketing methods and introduce them to citizens, residents and tourists.
Around 7 tonnes of different types of dates were sold on the opening day, accounting for almost the entire lot put on display on Day 1. Also, the opening day saw more than 2,500 people visit the festival, according to a statement by the MME.
The 10-day festival is being held from 4pm to 10pm every day.
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