The country’s food security and sustainability was boosted with tonnes of fruits and vegetables grown in school greenhouses run by the Sahtak Awalan – Your Health First under the initiative, Khayr Qatarna programme.
The produce were grown in greenhouses within three secondary schools in Qatar. Under the Khayr Qatarna initiative, Sahtak Awalan runs the greenhouses and the produce sold at local supermarkets. The programme also teaches students about agriculture, logistics, economics and healthy food. All profits are reinvested in the scheme.
The fruits and vegetables were grown and harvested in the last ten months, and comprised tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and beans.
With greenhouses now built at seven more schools, this year’s crop is set to yield more. The plan is for the scheme to expand across Qatar as profits are ploughed back into the initiative. This will see more schools included in the programme, helping fulfil Qatar National Vision 2030’s goals of sustainability and healthy future generations.
Nesreen Al Rifai, Chief Communications Officer at Weill Cornell Medicine – Qatar (WCM-Q), which runs Sahtak Awalan – Your Health First, said it has been a wonderful first year. She said that the success of the greenhouses has been ‘beyond expectations’.
With the invaluable contribution of all our strategic partners, we have helped support national sustainability and provided high school students with lessons about healthy eating, agriculture, economics and logistics. I would like to thank the Ministry of Education and Higher Education for working with Your Health First; and the schools and teachers, for offering us access to schools.’
She said that the expansion to seven new schools will allow them to introduce new fruits and vegetables into the initiative.
I hope that all secondary schools in Qatar will have one of our greenhouses and that together, we can help create a healthy generation able to meet the challenges of Qatar National Vision 2030.’
Hassan Al Mohamedi, Director of the Public Relations and Communications Department at the Ministry of Education and Higher Education, said they are very happy to see the growing health awareness among the community.
Greenhouses are currently maintained at Amna Bint Wahab School, Osama bin Zaid Preparatory School and at Zainab Preparatory School for Girls. The seven new schools with the new greenhouses include: Audio Complex for Girls, Audio Complex for Boys, Roqaya Preparatory for Girls, Khalid Bin Ahmed for Boys, Al Wajba for Girls, Al Razi for Boys, and Moza Bint Mohammed for Girls.
All greenhouses, apart from the previously existing ones, have now been planted with new crops – including strawberries for the first time – and the first harvests of 2019 are expected by the end of this month until mid-March. More crops will be sown after the harvest. Because the greenhouses are climate-controlled, fruits and vegetables can continue to be grown throughout the year, even during the summer months.
Khayr Qatarna was officially launched last February, as an extension of Project Greenhouse, which has seen 130 greenhouses built at local elementary schools to teach children the importance of eating healthy food and how to grow their own fruit and vegetables.
The Khayr Qatarna project and the wider Sahtak Awalan campaign has been supported by Qatar Foundation, the Ministry of Public Health, the Ministry of Education and Higher Education, the Ministry of Environment and Municipality, Occidental Petroleum and ExxonMobil.