DOHA (UNA-OIC) – Doha, the Qatari capital, will be hosting the Islamic Organization for Food Security (IOFS) Forum, which will be organized by IOFS tomorrow Monday, at a time where the country has made great progress in the field of food security.
It is expected that during the forum held under the umbrella of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), in coordination and cooperation with the Ministry of Municipality and Environment, Qatar will showcase its contributions at the global level in terms of food security.
Recently, Qatar signed, through the Qatar Fund for Development (QFFD), an agreement with the World Food Program (WFP) to provide a financial contribution of 90 million dollars to help meet urgent food security needs in Yemen, which is threatened by famine due to conflict, economic decline and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Qatar also contributed to providing urgent humanitarian aid to Afghanistan by launching an air bridge from Doha to Kabul, through which nearly 70 tons of urgent food were transported.
Qatar also launched an initiative to establish the Global Dryland Alliance, which is one of the international mechanisms aimed at confronting climate change and achieving food security. The alliance agreement was concluded in Doha in 2017 and entered into force after ratification by the states parties in accordance with the provisions of the agreement. The alliance was granted the “Observer” status at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in recognition of the important role it can play globally.
At the end of last year, the QFFD signed an agreement with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to help Somalia improve its resilience in the face of climate change. This agreement aims to enhance agriculture and livestock production for smallholders, through the development of proactive strategies capable of adapting to the effects of climate change and predicting crises. In June 2021, the QFFD also signed a contribution agreement with the Adaptation Fund established under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to finance adaptation to climate change in most countries vulnerable to climate change, including the least developed countries and small island developing states.
According to a report issued in late January by the UK-based Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), the State of Qatar was ranked 1st at the level of Arab countries in the Global Food Security Index (GFSI) 2021 – jumping 13 places to secure 24th place in the ranking of 113 countries in the latest edition of GFSI 2021, after having been ranked at 37th place in the 2020 edition of the report.
Hosting such a forum confirms the state’s keenness to enhance the food security system in Islamic countries and build their capabilities in this significantly vital sector, by transferring Qatar’s experience in food security to Islamic countries, as Qatar has invested heavily in food and agricultural policies, infrastructure, market updates, ports and storage reserves. It has also increased interest in the field of food security research and established a fund to sponsor agricultural and food research, in addition to developing the national strategy for nutrition, including guidelines, standards, labels and posters for nutrition, while providing healthy food and nutrients from minerals and vitamins, as well as intensifying efforts to adapt to climate change and preserve land, water and marine resources.
Over the past few years, and under the directives of HH the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, Qatar has significantly developed food markets and agricultural yards, expanded and modernized the logistical infrastructure in ports and warehouses, and established strategic storage reserves of wheat and rice, increasing the reserve stocks of a wide range of basic foodstuffs in retail stores, while increasing public expenditures on agricultural research through the Qatar National Research Fund for food security.
Qatar is considered one of the world’s and the region’s most distinguished countries in terms of spending and funding for research and development in the field of agriculture, as well as investing in crop storage, improving roads, ports, and irrigation infrastructure, diversifying partners in international trade and trade routes, and increase in local production capacity of the most important basic commodities, including milk and dairy products, poultry, fresh vegetables and seafood.
In cooperation and coordination with the state’s concerned bodies, the Ministry of Municipality is keen to continuously improve the condition of food security for Qatar, as well as increasing classifications in the following editions in GFSI. This includes reducing food loss and waste in the supply chain, improving production capacity and encouraging production throughout the year to deal with the critical summer months, adopting production methods that are compatible with the environment, achieving global best practices in food safety and quality standards, improving market access and financing local producers to improve the economic viability and attractiveness of local food production and food processing in the State of Qatar.
The State of Qatar has achieved many of the goals included in the food security strategy during the year 2021. The local production of vegetables jumped from about 66,000 tons to about 103,000 tons, which achieves a self-sufficiency ratio equivalent to 41 percent, noting that the self-sufficiency ratio target in 2023 is 70 percent for local vegetables. Currently, the percentage of self-sufficiency in local dates has increased to 86 percent, and is expected that the percentage will reach 95 percent by the year 2023.
The volume of production of dairy and its products maintained the same levels as in 2020. The country achieved complete self-sufficiency, with a rate exceeding 106 percent and a production volume of 230 thousand tons, in addition to achieving self-sufficiency in the consumption of fresh poultry, as the volume of production reached 28 thousand tons and the rate of self-sufficiency to 124 percent.
As for red meat, the production volume increased to 12.5 thousand tons, achieving a self-sufficiency rate of 24 percent in comparison to 2018, where the production volume was about 8,000 tons, achieving a self-sufficiency rate. The local production volume of table eggs has also increased, reaching 11 thousand tons and achieving a self-sufficiency rate of 35 percent compared to 2018 of about 6000 tons, with a self-sufficiency rate of 20 percent. It is expected that the self-sufficiency rate of table eggs will reach 70 percent by the year 2023.
Recent years have recorded a remarkable growth in the register of breeders and shepherds and the size of the herd by increasing the number of owners and the number of livestock raised. The national program for honey bees has also been launched, farmers have been trained in beekeeping, 11 meadows have been rehabilitated, in addition to establishing work in the yards selling vegetables from the local product (Al Mazrouah, Al Khor and Al Thakhira, Al Wakra) for seven months from Nov,1 until the end of May of each year and adopting programs to market distinctive Qatari vegetables, including the Fresh Local Dates Festival and the Qatar International Agricultural and Environmental Exhibition (AgriteQ).
The Animal Production Research Station was also established and operated in Al Sheehaniya, which specializes in conducting studies and research related to developing animal production techniques, improving the economic profitability of the sector, improving and preserving genetic specifications, and equipping Al Ghashamiya research station for the production of pastoral plants, and the completion of the designs for the Agricultural Research Center in Al Mazrooah.
While the volume of production of fresh fish maintained the same levels during 2019 and 2020 due to the stabilization of the local catch to preserve the fish stock in the country, it is expected that the self-sufficiency rate of local fresh fish will reach 90 percent by 2023 through the contribution of fish farming projects in the country to increase the local production of fresh fish.
Qatar has paid great attention to developing the fish farming industry locally to increase production and raise the percentage of self-sufficiency in fish from other sources without resorting to excessive exploitation of fisheries. The Aquatic Fisheries Research Center has been established, which was equipped with the latest technologies in fish farming systems, and has entered the actual production phase in 2020. About 1.5 million small local fish (Hamour, Black Seabream, Safi) and about 6 million shrimp larvae were produced by the end of 2021.
The state was also able, under contracts with the private sector, to raise the reserve stock of strategic commodities, the most important of which are wheat, rice, edible oils, sugar, frozen red meat, long-life milk, and powdered milk, which contributed to overcoming all the challenges imposed by the pandemic and affected supply chains.