The country’s agriculture sector has many potential projects in the pipeline, and some 150 hectares can be developed over the next few years, prominent Qatari agriculturist Nasser Ahmed al-Khalaf has said.
Al-Khalaf, who is the managing director of Qatari agricultural development company Agrico, was highlighting the importance of continuously investing in technology to further increase yields and help Qatar achieve food security.
“We have developed over 200,000sq m of horticulture projects, which has increased the local production by 7,000 tonnes annually,” he told Gulf Times.
Al-Khalaf noted that part of these projects – all using hydroponics farming – includes the growing of several fruits and vegetables that will substantially reduce the reliance on imported fresh produce.
He stressed that Qatar’s agriculture sector has been continually booming despite the Covid-19 pandemic in the past months, having no effect on production.
“We have proven at Agrico that we can reduce costs and increase crop yields to give a better return of investment,” al-Khalaf said, citing the efficiency of hydroponics farming compared to the use of conventional growing systems.
He said Agrico played a key role in supporting those who invested in hydroponics farming in Qatar, which saw substantial gains annually.
A sustainable way of farming, he pointed out that hydroponics reduces water consumption and produces higher yield and high-quality crops such as cucumber, tomato (all types), zucchini, eggplant, lettuce of various types, sweet and hot pepper, spring onion, beans (all types) and other green leafy vegetables, as well as melon and other fruits.
“We try to increase the variety of crops as much as we can. However, there are some crops that are not in our pipeline to produce at the moment, such as onions,” al-Khalaf said. “Due to the fact that such crops require a large size of land, consume lots of water and the market value is low, it does not make sense to grow it at the moment.”
“We are, however, studying the development of new ways to grow those crops commercially in Qatar,” he added.
About floriculture, al-Khalaf said there is no issue with growing flowers in Qatar because it is not as complicated as vegetables.
“However, it is not our aim at Agrico to produce flowers, our aim is to use our technologies to increase the local production aiming for food security,” he pointed out.
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