A three-day festival showcasing the novel hydroponic technique used by some local farms to bring efficiency in production of vegetables opened at the farmers' market Al Mazrouah yesterday.
Hydroponic is a modern cultivation method for growing plants using mineral nutrient solution in water without requiring any soil.
Three local farms are participating the festival organised by the Ministry of Municipality and Environment to promote this technique. They showcased a variety of grow kits with different kinds of vegetables and fruits.
“The festival is meant to promote hydroponic in the local farms. It is an amazing technique because it rationalises the consumption of water and gives good quality products,” Yusuf Khalid Al Khulaifi, Director of Agriculture Affairs at the Ministry, told The Peninsula on the sideline of the festival.
“The water efficiency is also keeping pace with the strategy of the Ministry that aimed at protecting ground water. Therefore, the Ministry is providing all possible support to promote this technique."
Al Khulaifi said that farmers with hydroponic products have been provided new platform of marketing at shopping malls recently. Their products were labelled as prime quality so they could get high prices.
“The Ministry also facilitates the farmers to get loans easily from Qatar Development Bank (QDB) for their hydroponic projects. Hydroponic has many benefits. It rationalise water consumption significantly, required less workers, saved pesticide and gives prime quality products,” said Al Khualifi.
Ali Ahmad Saad Al Kaabi, owner of Global Farm for Agricultural Supplies whose farm is participating in the festival, said, “We prepared hydroponic grow rooms measuring 500 sqm at our farm and produced more than 70 tonnes of vegetables and fruits from September to June We produce cucumbers, different types of leafy vegetables, egg plants and variety of tomato. We are the only farm that produces green beans in our grow rooms."
Hydroponic has less plant pests and diseases that affect the crops. It has reduced water consumption by about 70 percent.
"We used special kind of fertiliser in place of soil based on coconut leaf imported from India and other countries," he added.
"We received necessary support from the Ministry. QDB disbursed loans for this project. It brings good profit in the long term. Hydroponic is very useful for kitchen gardens as it is not expensive when it comes to small projects," said Al Kaabi.
Hydroponic has increased production by about seven times compared to traditional farming. For example, some 1,300 plants of vegetables could be cultivated in an area of 36 sqm of farm land. Hydroponic grow room allows to cultivate about 8,000 plants in the same area, said Al Kaabi.
Production of vegetables increased three fold because of hydroponic, said Mohamad Sameer, a farm worker. "We harvest about ten kg tomato from a single plant. The plants last for long. When it dies we replace it with another one. Traditional farming cannot compete with hydroponic both in terms of production and efficiency."