A desert state, Qatar contains enthralling architecture, hi-tech facilities and large natural gas reserves. Although hard to imagine, it also contributes a good volume in terms of local agricultural produce.
With just 1% of arable land, much of the produce found in Qatar has been imported from neighboring countries and beyond. However, since the blockade of 2017, the country has made a concerted effort to grow its agricultural sector, with production increasing by more than 100%.
To date there are 1,400 agriculture farms in the north and over 400 greenhouses. According to the Ministry of Municipality and Environment, self-sufficiency in vegetable production is at 24% and is expected to exceed 70% in the next five years.
Qatar has also achieved 100% self-sufficiency in live poultry, meat and dairy products.
To ensure the availability of farm fresh products all year, farmers are increasingly turning to technological solutions, incorporating LED or dark room technology which eliminates the threat of pests and diseases. LED lighting is considered far better than traditional light sources and is more energy efficient, as the farmers can adjust the light according to the stages of plant growth.
All this fresh produce is available to the public at farmer’s markets across the country, some seasonal and some regular – Al Mazrouah Yard (Salwa – Lusail connection), Al Khor Yard (Ras Laffan Road), Al Wakra Yard (across from Ezdan Mall, Al Wakra), Al Muaither Yard (Al Rayyan), Al Ruwais Yard (northern Qatar) and Mahaseel Festival (Katara). These markets sell fresh fruits, vegetables, flowers, plants, livestock, honey and more at cheaper prices, and encourage the production and regulation of homegrown produce, as markets are fully overseen by the Ministry of Municipality and Environment..
Farms such as AGRICO and SAIC have embraced the concept of hydroponics in their farming methodology wherein a water solvent with nutrients is used as a base for plant growth rather than soil. Qatar now accounts for five purely organic farms.
For those who can’t travel to farmer’s markets, local produce is available at stores such as Monoprix, Lulu Hypermarket and Al Meera.