There aren’t too many options when it comes to farming in Qatar. That’s because of the harsh climate in the country and that there is very few land suitable for growing crops. Despite these difficulties, however, Qatar was characterized during the 20th century as a country that relied on small scale farming, fishing and nomadic herding to survive.
Nowadays, these three worthwhile endeavors are not as important anymore when it comes to sustenance and contributing to the nation’s wealth. Qatar, after all, is the richest nation in the world thanks to its oil and natural gas reserves, and its commendable capacity to export these goods. Having said that, the government understands that it can not rely on both, because these commodities will eventually run out. That’s why it has been promoting to its citizens to continue fishing and farming to become self-sufficient in terms of food.
How Qatar Encourages its Citizens to Farm
1. Hydroponic Farming
Qatar’s Agrico has a Hydroponic Trial and Demonstration Center which, thus far, has shown lots of promise. In fact, this year saw a record yield in vegetables through hydroponics. In particular, the yield in tomatoes has continuously risen for six straight years now, at a rate of 33 kg per square meter annually. The Center has discovered a hydroponic technique which was exactly suited to Qatar’s climate, which not only saves water, but is also safe to Qatar’s environment.
2. Ministry of Municipality and Environment’s Farming Efforts
The Ministry of Municipality and Environment, or MME for short, has started 3 programs all aimed at improving the produce of farmers. These three programs are called “Qatar Farms,” “Premium Vegetables” and “Winter Vegetable Markets.” Because of the efforts of MME, sales in local vegetables have risen by 50 percent during the years 2018 to 2019. Because of these efforts, customers now have more access to local farmers, and in fact, farmers have sold around 8,000 tonnes more of local vegetables during the period 2018-19 as compared to the year 2017-18.
3. Farming as a Part of School Curriculum
Even Qatar’s Ministry of Education and Higher Education collaborated with the MME to help in the country’s efforts for food sustainability through farming. The education sector launched two schemes, called “Khayr Qatarna,” and “Farm Your Country.” The students not only learn innovative farming; they also learn to appreciate the connection between the food they eat and the agricultural efforts that brought them their food. Other schools are organizing field trips to farms as well as cooking lessons.
Qatar understands the value of doing research as a solution to food security concerns, concerns that are brought about by the effects of climate change, emerging diseases, nutritional uncertainty and more. Therefore, Qatar has put forth local food production as one of its research priority areas. The aim is to make communities more self-reliant, enhance availability of foods and ensures a level of sustainability.
5. Home Farming as Leisure
In recent years, more and more Qataris are engaging in home farming. This activity provides the added benefit of making the homes more beautiful, aside from yielding produce for fresh ingredients in the kitchen. This practice has spread so rapidly in Qatar that there are now entities that organize workshops to train students in home farming.
By encouraging farming, the government hopes to make Qatar an even more sustainable nation than it already is. There are obvious challenges to this endeavor, seeing that the country has limited arable land, but it has proven, time and again, that it knows how to utilize its resources for the better.