As more local farms are encouraged to expand operations due to stronger government support, HE the Minister of Municipality and Environment Mohamed bin Abdullah al-Rumaihi has said he expects Qatar to be 100% self-sufficient in vegetable production by 2020.
“I believe vegetables will be a good market here, and I hope that from now until 2020, we will be 100% self-sufficient, including the summer season,” al-Rumaihi told Gulf Times yesterday on the sidelines of the 10-day Local Dates Festival at Souq Waqif.
Asked about the ministry’s support for local farms, al-Rumaihi noted that Qatari farmers receive government assistance in the form of agricultural materials and fertilisers, among others.
This support, he stressed, contributed to the production of high-quality dates. This year, HE the Minister said Qatar would be able to achieve at least 85% self-sufficiency in dates production.
“I believe Qatari farms and farmers now find themselves with a better chance in the market, and they have better access to the market. The quality of dates is better this year; they are very clean and not infected by insects or pests.
HE the Minister visits the booth of a local farm at the Local Dates Festival.
“The quantity of the dates is also larger, and I believe we will be able to achieve at least 80-85% self-sufficiency in dates production in 2017. As consumption is also very high, importation will be only about 20%,” he pointed out.
HE al-Rumaihi said since the economic blockade has placed more focus on local products, many farmers have been encouraged to expand their operations and find new markets.
“The market was not affected at all by the blockade and it has created an internal market, as well as more opportunities for local dates producers to make more money as there is little import from outside.
“They are now getting a better chance at earning, which is why farmers are very enthusiastic to produce more, improve the quality and try to gain new markets. I believe that next year, we will be mostly self-sufficient and food security in this sector will be guaranteed,” he said.
Meanwhile, HE the Minister said Qatar will continue importing other types of dates that are not grown in the country, “according to the demand of the local market”.
HE al-Rumaihi said some dates are imported from America, North Africa, Pakistan and Iran “because there is a market for these types of produce in Qatar”.
“Farmers are encouraged because they see that there is a market, and there is no competition from outside although we are getting some types of dates from the region and some from as far as California,” he pointed out.
He also said the Ministry of Municipality and Environment was supporting dates farmers by purchasing their products, especially stocks that were not sold in the market.
“The farms participating in the festival are receiving a lot of orders,” he added.
37.4 tonnes of dates sold
Some 11.9 tonnes of dates were sold at the ongoing Local Dates Festival on Sunday, taking the total sales to 37.4 tonnes since the start of the event on Thursday.
The Ministry of Municipality and Environment, which has organised the festival at Souq Waqif, informed this in a statement yesterday.
Around 15,000 people have visited the festival on the first four days, with Sunday seeing a turnout of 4,000 visitors.