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Satyendra Pathak
Qatar’s government is working in partnership with the country’s private sector to maintain a stockpile of 22 essential food and non-food items for 3 million people for six months, Qatar Chamber Board of Director and Head of Food Security and Environment Committee Mohamed bin Ahmed al Obaidli said on Tuesday.
Talking to Qatar Tribune on the sidelines of a seminar entitled ‘Role of Qatari Private Sector in strategic Storage’ at the headquarters of Qatar Chamber, Obaidli said, “These 22 items have been classified as essential items by the government especially after the blockade was imposed on the country two and a half years ago. The government wants to partner with all private players in the food sector to ensure that there is a stock of all these main items for six months on any given day.”
As the representative body of private sector in Qatar, he said, Qatar Chamber is in the process of identifying main private firms in the food sector to achieve this goal either from local production or by importing from other countries.
“Strategic stock of such items involves exporters, importers, retailers, and other players. We are in contact with all of them and trying to evolve a strategy where all of them make a profit while maintaining the stock. We are also in talks with the government to build public-private partnership to ensure the effectiveness and efficiency of strategic storage of foodstuffs and commodities which is one of the key pillars of the country’s national strategy for food security,” he said.
Obaidli said the government is also working in close cooperation with the private sector to diversify its sources of importing food products.
“We can not rely on importing any food product just from one country. Now it is our strategy to import a maximum of 30 percent of any food item from one source. We have entered into talks with a number of countries to achieve this goal of diversification,” he said.
Qatar Chamber Chairman Sheikh Khalifa bin Jassim al Thani, who also attended the seminar, said that Qatar’s private sector did a remarkable job by ensuring sufficient supplies of food products after the blockade.
“After learning the lessons from the blockade, the country has embarked upon a number of projects under the PPP model to ensure self-sufficiency in food products,” he said.
He said the strategic storage projects such as food security storage facility at Hamad Port has enhanced the country’s status as a model for achieving food security strategy.
He said that tenders will be floated soon to award contract to local firms for processing, manufacturing, and refining of rice, raw sugar, and edible oils at the facility.
Once the facility is operational, he said, there will be enough stockpile of processed and stored food for 3 million people for two years
He said that storage facility for cereals will be shifted from Doha Port to Hamad Port soon to increase the storage capacity for this essential food commodity.
Speaking on the occasion, Masoud Jarallah al Marri, director of the Food Security Department at the Ministry of Municipal and Environment and Secretary of the National Committee for Food Security, said the strategic storage facilities would help in facing the challenges of short-term stocks of perishable goods and the long-term stock of non-perishable goods.
He also said that the national strategy for food security is based on four pillars including boosting local production, strategic storage, international trade and the local market.
Sheikh Jassim bin Jabor al Thani, assistant undersecretary for consumer affairs and head of the strategic storage team, said that the state has laid an integrated food security system based on diversifying sources of import, establishing strategic storage of food and strategic commodities, achieving local self-sufficiency, enhancing productive capacities, and developing infrastructure and legislation.
He stressed that these steps are adopted in order to meet the challenges related to global markets, climate changes, monopolistic policies, or changes at the local and regional level.
He said also that the issuance of the Law No 24 of 2019 aims to create a legal framework for the establishment and management of strategic storage and facing all fluctuations as well as organizing procedures applied in emergency cases.
“It also aims to promote the public-private partnership due to the vital role played by the private sector in the food security,” he noted.
Sheikh Jassim pointed out that there is coordination between competent authorities and the private sector to secure the necessary needs of goods and commodities, noting that an electronic system has been launched to manage the strategic storage and identify the abundance of goods in the private sector.
Qatar Chamber First Vice Chairman Mohamed bin Twar said that food security is one of the most important segments that require public-private partnership.
A large number of businessmen and representatives of local companies specialised in food and storage were also present.
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