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Qatar: 70% self-sufficient with veggies by 2030

As Qatar moves to reduce its reliance on imports, vegetable sustainability becomes increasingly important to the Gulf country.

Zulal Oasis design is based in a comprehensive concept using cutting-edge technology.
Zulal Oasis design is based in a comprehensive concept using cutting-edge technology.

As part of its sustainability drive, Qatar is expected to achieve between 50 and 70% self-sufficiency in vegetable production by 2030.

It is anticipated that, 1,000 hectares of land, or 10,000 acres, will be under cultivation, says Hamad Hadi Al Hajri, a senior official of state-backed food company, Zulal Oasis, a subsidiary to Hassad Food Company.

He said that using modern technology, Qatar will be able to produce a variety of vegetables; technology complementary to the Qatari climate and greenhouse-based, not needing water, The Peninsula reported. 

Set up in 2013, Zulal signed a deal with a Spanish company to provide a means of producing vegetables that suited Qatar’s climate. Since 2013, the technology has been tried and used in Qatar over a period of two seasons. Zulal has a greenhouse in Al Shahaniya can be used as a laboratory or a training facility, in future, said Al Hajri.

He assured that the company will only provide the private sector with technical support to invest in agricultural production, and had no intention of competing with private players.

To date, in its greenhouse, it has successfully produced a record 44kg of tomatoes in a space of one-square-metre. Also, based on production in the model greenhouse project, vegetable production on average can reach up to 37kg per square metre.

During a field trip to announce an open day for farmers, Al Hajri spoke to the media.

The company invited local farmers, agricultural specialists and investors to visit the premises during the Zulal Oasis open day on 27th August, at Al Shahanyiah farm.

The pilot project will see farmers using the integrated production system developed by Zulal Oasis being able to produce high quality vegetables throughout the year, regardless of the season, an able to overcome the challenges facing the local agriculture sector such as, high temperature and humidity and lack of ground water as well as arable lands.

Nasser Mohamed Al Hajri, chairman and managing director of Hassad Food, said: “We launched Zulal Oasis back in 2013, through a partnership between Hassad Food and Oasis Agrotechnology, a consortium led by Primaflor Group (the leading greenhouse and production technology company in Europe), to test and adapt the company’s technology to the local climate.”

He continued: “The Zulal Oasis technology is a long term sustainable production model, with the capability of producing high grade crops 12 months a year regardless of the season, since the technology was developed as an integrated farming system that operates efficiently by utilising the local climate conditions, while efficiently using and recycling 100 percent of the irrigation water.”

With its long-life strong structure and cutting-edge design and technological advances, the new generation of hydroponic greenhouses tops the achievements of Zulal Oasis and makes this agricultural technology the most advanced, efficient and suitable for arid climates, The Peninsula reports.

The greenhouse design is based on using advanced technology such as the worldwide-patented crop system; New Growing System (NGS). The system has several advantages, including: not using soil or substrate materials for agriculture; natural self-purification; maximum development of roots and 100 percent recirculating nutrient solution.

The NGS system provides comprehensive standard irrigation system which makes it by far the most efficient for farmers in terms of productivity, strength and health of plants, saving water and fertilizers, as well as uniformity and quality of the products.

An automated smart climate control system used by Zulal Oasis for cooling the greenhouses is the Dry Air Cooling System (DACS), which operates with the highest efficiency in terms of uniformly cooling all the parameters of the greenhouse, providing the optimum environment for plants throughout the year. This system consumes no water for operation and provides no moisture.

With the cost of production highly competitive and lower than imported products of the same quality, the Zulal Oasis technology is financially viable. It also allows variation in the produced crops regardless of the season, to meet the market demand.

Zulal Oasis also offers a complete service including design, planning and engineering, construction and manufacturing of greenhouses components, project management, technical advice, farmers training, input supply & maintenance, farm operation as well as marketing and distribution of products.

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