The efforts exerted by Qatar to enhance its agriculture production and attain self-sufficiency in such areas have been praised at the recent centenary celebrations of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in Doha.
The ceremony was held at Katara - the Culture Village under the patronage of HE the Minister of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs Yousef bin Mohamed al-Othman al-Fakhro, under the topic "The Future of Work in Qatar."
The event featured a panel discussion on "The future of work in agriculture in Qatar", moderated by Mattias Thorns, deputy secretary general at the International Organisation of Employers, with the participation of Masood Jarallah al-Marri, director of food security department at the Ministry of Municipality and Environment; Mohamed bin Ahmed al-Obaidly, president of committee on food security at Qatar Chamber; Nasser Ahmed al-Khalaf, president of Agrico group; and Luigia Ingianni, commissioner of the employment standards office at Qatar Financial Centre.
Thorns pointed out that Qatar has been experiencing an agriculture revolution in spite of all the challenges, which helps to create more job and investment opportunities in the country in new areas.
Al-Marri said that Qatar has adopted a long-term strategy for food security (2018-2023) based on the new situation after the unjust blockade was imposed on the country on June 5, 2017.
The strategy is based on two main pillars: the first is achieving self-sufficiency in agriculture products that could not be stored for long periods such as fresh vegetables, poultry and meat in addition to fish and milk and dairy products; the other pillar is to maintain adequate strategic stock of the products that could not be planted or produced in the country such as grains and other similar products.
The official said that the country has been keen to create green job opportunities. However, the strategy is to address the challenges such as reducing the cost of water supply and electricity and achieving the optimum use of the limited arable land in the country.
Regarding the storage of grains, he stressed that strategic stocks adequate for at least six months is maintained while diversifying the sources of supply, as no single country would supply more than 35% of the needed amounts to guarantee uninterrupted flow of such commodities to Qatar.
Al-Obaidly said that after the blockade, Qatar was able to overcome all the challenges in the agriculture sector in particular, achieving self-sufficiency in many products. However, now the issue of exporting the surplus products has come up, in order to sustain the productivity of this new industry.
He said that the agriculture production in Qatar has adopted the approach of employing latest technology which require only a minimum number of highly skilled workers, who should be encouraged to stay in the country for as long as possible to benefit from their expertise.
Al-Khalaf said that the particular challenges of the climate and environment of Qatar regarding agriculture has created a new experience for the workers in the field, where readymade technological solutions would not work as they have to be modified to suit the actual situation and local needs.
He pointed out that the skilled agriculture workers and experts who came to work in Qatar has learned over the past few years to adapt their expertise to the local requirements to address the challenges. The industry accordingly flourished and an increase of around 300% was achieved in some products. He also lauded the government support in the field, especially in encouraging farmers through its various marketing projects and initiatives.
Ingianni pointed out that the increasing investments in agriculture production in the country have created the need for more specialised workers, who need to be trained to meet the needs of the local market. “This makes it necessary to retain such workers for longer periods.”