As government backs more local farms to increase their production, the Minister of Municipality and Environment Mohamed bin Abdullah al-Rumaihi, said that Qatar will 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 on the sidelines of the 10-day Local Dates Festival at Souq Waqif.
He informed that the farmers receive assistance from government in the form of agricultural materials and fertilisers among others. The support has added to the contribution of production of high quality dates and said that Qatar would at least achieve 85% of self-sufficiency in dates production this year, the minister added.
“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.
“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.
The minister explained that since the blockade 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 added that the ministry was backing dates farmers by purchasing their products, especially the stocks that remained unsold in the market.
“The farms participating in the festival are receiving a lot of orders,” he added.
Around 11.9 tonnes of dates were sold at the Local Dates Festival on Sunday, which took the total tally to 37.4 tonnes since the start of the event. The event was organised by the Ministry at Souq Waqif.
Nearly 15,000 people have visited the festival on the first four days, with Sunday seeing a turnout of 4,000 visitors.