Qatar’s local hydroponic farms aim to further expand their operations in the next two years to reach 100 hectares in order to meet the growing demand for organic vegetables.
"We are hoping to achieve this target by 2021 under our operations, management, and distribution,” prominent Qatari agriculturist and Agrico managing director Nasser Ahmed al-Khalaf told Gulf Times
Agrico, a private Qatari agricultural development company established in 2011, is helping the country achieve self-sufficiency in food. It is currently developing other local farms and involved in a number of agri projects in Qatar.
Nasser Ahmed al-Khalaf at Agriteq 2019
AgriteQ 2019 attracted a large number of visitors. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam
"We are now focusing on improving efficiency and increasing yields by building more greenhouses for farm investors with the use of modern technology," he explained on the sidelines of the Qatar International Agricultural Exhibition 2019, which concluded yesterday at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Centre.
The event, dubbed as ‘AgriteQ and EnviroteQ 2019’, brought together 90 local farms and more than 50 international companies under one roof, highlighting the importance of innovation in agricultural techniques, in addition to showcasing an array of new equipment and technologies.
“There is nothing to improve on our system (made in Qatar) but we want to increase the density per square metre, utilising the fertilisers and nutrients in a more efficient way to increase our production,” al-Khalaf said.
The Qatari agriculturist pointed out that the demand for organic fresh produce in Qatar rose dramatically due to people’s “high level of awareness” on the health benefits of organic foods.
Agrico currently exports products to Kuwait (1.5 tonne weekly by plane) and Oman, and it is also eyeing European markets.
“People might see Agrico in European markets this year. Why Europe? Because in the winter, they cannot produce vegetables and they cannot have this type of quality and not organic,” al-Khalaf said.
He added that the company received its US Department of Agriculture certification recently and it is on the process of applying for Global Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) certification to be able to export to Europe.
Agrico produces at least 10,000 tonnes of various vegetables such as cucumber, tomatoes, and mushrooms, among others, per day, according to al-Khalaf.
The company has also invested in aquaponics farming and will start raising organic chickens in Qatar early next year, he added.