Qatar residents continue to patronise local fresh produce, particularly organic vegetables, offered by a number of hypermarkets in Doha.
Speaking to Gulf Times, a source from a leading retail chain in the country said they have seen an increasing demand for organic tomato, cucumber, lemon and mushroom, among other items, since the start of the blockade imposed by the Saudi-led bloc.
He added that the growing popularity of organic produce has prompted many customers to choose locally grown vegetables and other fresh products instead of imported ones.
“People go for such items because prices are reasonable and the local farms also assure us that the fresh produce is free from harmful chemicals,” the source stressed.
Apart from cucumber and regular tomato, he noted that people also buy broccoli, cherry tomato, capsicum, chili, lettuce and cabbage.
Many of the shelves in hypermarkets are also filled with local herbs and leaves such as molukia, mint, parsley, cheera, jergeer, spinach, basil, kangkong, maithy and figel.
An employee from another hypermarket aired a similar view, saying the economic blockade has prompted them to offer more locally produced and organic vegetables and fruits.
“The quality of the fresh organic items produced here is really good,” he said, expressing confidence that the quantity would further increase in the near future.
Shelves filled with locally-grown mushrooms
It is learnt that a number of events, such as the first edition of Mahaseel Festival, launched earlier this year at Katara – the Cultural Village, helped in promoting and popularising organic produce in the country.
Mahaseel, which continued every weekend until April, featured an array of vegetables, fruits, ornamental plants and other local agricultural and poultry products such as eggs sold at low prices.
Ina bid to help achieve food security in Qatar, some local farms have also started producing vegetables through hydroponics, a method of growing plants in a water-based, nutrient-rich solution.
While hydroponics-grown vegetables are not organic, the non-conventional agricultural system is known to produce high-quality vegetables and fruits faster than traditional farming.
A local farm owner told Gulf Times hopes that other farms will consider investing and using what he described as “a very promising and agricultural technology”.
He noted that hydroponics uses less space and labour, and saves more than 70% of water.