Qatar's food security boost post-blockade

Before the 2017 blockade imposed on Qatar by four Arab nations, it used to import nearly 90 percent of its food supply.

| Qatar, Middle East

June 5 marked three years since four Arab nations imposed a blockade on Qatar.

Before the 2017 blockade that closed the land border with Saudi Arabia, Qatar was importing nearly 90 percent of its food supply, according to Qatar's Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

That has now changed. The government has invested in domestic food productio and technology boosting Qatar to become one of the highest-ranking countries in food security in the region.

"Two years back the local production, for the fruits and vegetables, did not exceed ten percent, today we are almost 30 percent," Nasser el Khallaf, the owner of Agrico, told Al Jazeera. 

"So I think it's just a matter of time, since the technology is available, the know how is available locally, then there is nothing to stop us from reaching our targets."

One of three food storage facilities in Qatar, Umm Shahreen, is a half-million-metre space where the government stores rice, oil, condensed milk and feed for livestock. 

Qatar does not have the ability to produce these products for a number of reason, including its temperatures which can reach 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit) in the summer months. But there are many food items it can now grow itself to meet demand. 

One of the areas where it has achieved this is at a farm in the north of Doha which supplies vegetables all year round.

The greenhouses there are set up to cool down the temperature and humidity to produce tomatoes, mushrooms, cucumbers and eggplants among others. 

"While Qatar certainly has plenty of food, its dependency on food imports had its limitations," Al Jazeera's Dorsa Jabbari explains.

"And that's what pushed this country to focus on its domestic food production. And since the blockade, it has managed to produce enough dairy and poultry products to meet demand."

The government has played a big role in helping local businesses grow.

"We accomplished many programs, and passed new legislation for the concept of strategic stock in October of 2018," Jassim Bin Jabor Bin Hassan Al Thani, the assistant undersecretary for consumer affairs at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, told Al Jazeera. 

"We also help farmers with providing them seeds, we increase greenhouses, and offer financial assistance in the form of loans from the Development Bank." 

The blockade of Qatar is still in place despite numerous attempts by other countries to resolve the crisis. 

But it has also presented a unique opportunity for the government to rely less on food imports and more on local production. 

This report was produced and edited by Al Jazeera NewsFeed's Katya Bohdan.

Source: Al Jazeera

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