The agriculture and fisheries sectors at the Ministry of Municipality and Environment (MME) saw great achievements in the field of food security and self-sufficiency as a result of the implementation of a number of strategic national projects during the past year, an official has said.
This was represented by a significant increase in agricultural production, which in turn contributed to raising the self-sufficiency ratio across a number of commodities, Sheikh Dr Falih bin Nasser al-Thani, Assistant Undersecretary for Agriculture and Fisheries Affairs at the MME, noted.
He made the observation while addressing a recent press conference , where he highlighted the strategic projects launched in Qatar to support food security and how "great achievements" were seen in this regard - as reflected by Qatar maintaining the first position in the Arab world in the Global Food Security Index for 2019.
Also, Qatar jumped nine spots to 13th globally in the index compared to 2018, as reported in Gulf Times on Thursday.
Sheikh Dr Falih reviewed the most important achievements and initiatives that were taken during the past year through the State's efforts to advance agricultural production to achieve the desired food security, the official Qatar News Agency (QNA) reported. These contributed to supporting the agricultural sector towards realising great success in the recent period, indicating that the agricultural sector made great strides towards achieving food security in fields covering plants, livestock and fish.
He said in 2019, the ministry launched several initiatives and projects for private sector investors. Ten projects to grow vegetables in greenhouses were presented with an annual production capacity of about 21,000 tonnes. These were in addition to four projects concerned with the production of green fodder with treated wastewater, having an annual production capacity of about 17,000 tonnes.
Two projects were also launched for the production of concentrated feed with an annual production capacity of about 50,000 tonnes. For organic fertilisers, two projects were launched with an annual production capacity of about 12,000 tonnes for the two projects.
Regarding dairy production, Sheikh Dr Falih said two projects were launched to produce camel milk with an annual capacity of about 3,000 tonnes . Also, four projects were proposed for the production of table eggs in farms, funded by Qatar Development Bank, with a capacity of about 180mn eggs annually, as well as two projects for fish farming in floating cages with a production capacity of about 4,000 tonnes and a project for shrimp farming with an annual production capacity of about 1,000 tonnes.
The official touched on the most prominent initiatives and assistance provided by the MME to local producers, including the provision of concentrated feed for livestock breeders and livestock production requirements, in addition to supporting municipal poultry fortifications in farms and supporting farms with agricultural production requirements such as seeds, fertilisers, pesticides and marketing/packing. Fishermen were supported by supplying them a number of refrigerators.
Meanwhile, the total fish production in the State is currently some 15,000 tonnes annually, accounting for about 74% in terms of self-sufficiency.
Masoud Jarallah al-Marri, director of Food Security at the MME, stressed that Qatar was again ranked first in the Arab world and jumped to the 13th position globally after it was ranked 22 in 2018, according to the Global Food Security Index issued last month.
He informed that the measurement of the food security index depends on three sub-indices, which are a consumer's ability to bear the cost of food (affordability), the availability of food, and the quality and safety of food. He explained, in this context, that Qatar is first both in the Arab world and globally in terms of affordability, while it is third in the Arab world and 38th globally as far as availability is concerned. Also, it is first in the Arab world and 13th globally in terms of food quality and safety.
Al-Marri noted that the remarkable jump from 22nd to 13th globally in just one year, following the adoption of the National Food Security Strategy in 2018, is an indication that this national plan has contributed significantly to achieving food self-sufficiency with the aim of improving the level of food security in the country.
He said the National Food Security Strategy depends on four important pillars: local production, internal supply chains, international trade and logistics, and strategic storage.
The official stressed that local production is considered one of the strongest pillars of the strategy and it is witnessing growth in line with the implementation plan of the food security strategy. The pillar of internal supply chains has also made satisfactory progress, as the data indicate the success of the programmes adopted to boost the marketing of local products in addition to establishing Mahaseel company, which is expected to contribute towards strengthening the domestic market and internal supply chains.
With regard to international trade and logistics, he said it requires diversification of the food import sources to avoid interruption, adding that a plan has been developed in this regard. With regard to strategic storage, important steps have been taken to raise the strategic stock of basic commodities in the country in line with what is stated in the strategy.
Yousef Khaled al-Khulaifi, director of the Agricultural Affairs Department, said the support of the State and the efforts of the private sector and farm owners have contributed to growing quantities and types of local agricultural crops. He indicated that the ministry has focused, in recent years, on improving local marketing and finding various outlets to sell the local produce through different initiatives at commercial outlets. This, in turn, contributed to marketing 30% of the local farm produce through the projects launched over the last period.
With regard to supporting local producers, al-Khulaifi said a number of greenhouses were set up and some of these have begun the production process. He added that the target is 3,500 greenhouses with an area of 110 hectares to produce 10,000 tonnes of vegetables, which will contribute to increasing food production by 15%.
Abdulaziz al-Ziyara, director of the Animal Resources Department, confirmed that the department is working on implementing a strategy that would last for five years, with the aim of preventing transitional and epidemic diseases affecting livestock. It also seeks, in the coming period, to develop the halal numbering system, and serve as an early warning for any epidemic that may affect animals and prevent it before it occurs, as well as contributing to the development of the system of veterinary laboratories in a way that helps take decisions in this regard to preserve animal wealth.
Hamad al-Shammari, director of the Agricultural Research Department, said the department has developed a strategic plan emanating from the national food security plan for the agriculture and fisheries affairs sector, to create harmony and fluidity in work and achieve the desired goals.
He added that the department relies on key initiatives such as making recommendations and framing policies, developing research stations and laboratories, and developing joint projects to be able to achieve the main goals of the sector through conducting applied plant research such as the production of dates, palm varieties and other pastoral wild plants. These are in addition to applied livestock research through the animal research station that conducts feed research, which contributes to the development of quality livestock production.
Abdulaziz al-Dehaimi, director of the Fish Wealth Department, said the department has a national strategy (2018-2022) aimed at achieving self-sufficiency in fresh fish production and maintaining fish stocks, as well as the establishment of a number of fish and shrimp farms.
He added that the MME sought to establish the Water Research Centre with the aim of supporting research institutions in this field at the national and regional levels. It is a centre specialising in studies and research related to marine science and fish farming, as well as helping support fish stocks and biodiversity.