Tribune News Network
Hassad Food, Qatar’s premier investor in food and agribusiness sectors, in collaboration with the Ministry of Municipality, has launched agricultural services and inputs programme, with the aim of developing the local agricultural sector to contribute to achieving food security for Qatar.
In line with Hassad’s investment strategy and the Ministry of Municipality’s vision to develop the local agricultural sector to contribute to self-sufficiency, the programme focuses on developing agricultural practices and services to increase the agricultural season’s duration, as well as reach the highest productivity per sqm.
Mahaseel for Marketing and Agricultural Services Company (a subsidiary of Hassad), implements and manages the agricultural services and inputs programme, alongside the agricultural outputs programme (marketing local produce), to support and meet the farmers needs through a unified platform, which provides integrated agricultural services.
This programme targets all local farms to provide them with the needed agricultural services and inputs, as well as cooperate with local farmers to develop the farm’s infrastructureto maximize subsidy value provided by the Ministry of Municipality.
The programme’s plan covers three strategic sections: knowledge and skills development, farms infrastructure development, and supporting farmers in selecting the suitable agricultural inputs. The plan for the first section “knowledge and skills development” covers, developing guidance programs, in collaboration with the Agricultural Affairs Department at the Ministry of Municipality, to provide the required technical advice with regards to understanding and managing soil characteristics, health, and fertility, as well as the best international practices for irrigation management and pest control, in addition to healthy alternatives to chemical pesticides, herbicides and the latest agricultural technologies.
Moreover, the first section includes briefing the agricultural sector workers on the crop varieties available in Qatar, and the correct method to select the most suitable crop for the farm environment, as well as the importance of considering climate, soil conditions and water salinity levels, when choosing crops for cultivation, and introducing crop varieties and other relevant information.
Furthermore, the plan includes cooperation with universities and research institutions in research projects to develop agricultural practices, in coordination with the Agricultural Research Department at the Ministry of Municipality.
The plan also includes developing an application that includes all resources, information and news related to the agricultural sector, to serve farmers. Field visits to successful local farms to exchange experiences and expertise is included as well in the plan.
With regards to the programme’s second section “farms infrastructure development”, the plan includes the development of greenhouses, such as using non-cooled net greenhouses as a substitute for plastic tunnel greenhouse, given its ability to reduce the temperature and humidity as well as increase ventilation system purity within the greenhouse.
Moreover, developing the agricultural system such as the use of hydroponics in cooled greenhouses, to increase production and reduce water usage, and installing automated irrigation systems, to control fertilizer distribution on the plants, and reduce the cost of fertilization and manpower, are also covered in the plan.
The second section plan also includes developing transportation operations plans, such as adding a cooling system to the storage unit of the vehicles, to preserve the quality of agricultural produce during the transportation stage as well as reduce waste. New water tanks and developing some of the existing tanks in a number of local farms is included in the plan, to maintain the quality of irrigation water and prevent contamination or algae formation, following desalination operations or extraction from wells.
The plan also includes providing advanced spraying machines for chemical insecticides, to speed up application and homogeneity of pesticides on plants, taking into account all the necessary measures to protect the farmers, as well as working to increase the use of organic pesticides instead of chemical ones.
As for the third section of the programme, it includes a plan to support farmers in selecting the suitable agricultural inputs, to ensure high quality produce – it is necessary to choose the suitable types of seeds for each season and soil type, whether open fields or greenhouses or hydroponics. Genetically high-quality seeds are characterized by a high germination capacity, free from pests and diseases, as well as have high market value, and carry a high percentage of pure seeds.