Hassad has developed a rapid intervention plan to ensure Qatar's food security
Among the world's largest exporters of food grains are Russia and Ukraine. As a result of the continuing Russia-Ukraine conflict, Hassad Food Company has developed a rapid intervention plan to ensure Qatar's food security, said the company’s CEO Eng. Mohamed al-Sadah.
According to Qatar News Agency (QNA), Al Sadah stated that Hassad Food Company can provide grains, oilseeds, and wheat from various sources, including North America, South America, Turkey, Australia, and the Black Sea region.
Al Sadah elaborated upon the role Hassad Company plays in securing food security for the State during times of crisis, which is a crucial part of its management, especially since it is the State's investment arm for food and agriculture.
In times of crisis, such as the 2017 blockade and the latest Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, when part of the country's food supply was affected, Hassad, in coordination with the relevant State authorities, quickly stepped in to ensure that all products needed by the local market were available from several countries.
Upon being questioned about the strategic plans prepared to deal with any shortage of grains, wheat, and oilseeds in the local market resulting from the war in Ukraine and beginning the implementation of those plans, Al Sadah said that Hassad together with the authorities in Qatar, monitors the availability of basic commodities such as wheat constantly, and as soon as the supply of a basic commodity decreases will immediately provide the required quantity through its investments and international relations.
In discussing the period of time covered by the current stock of grains, wheat, and oilseeds to meet the needs of local markets, Al Sadah stated there is a constant effort to maintain a sufficient inventory of basic commodities for at least 6 months, at all times.
To support Qatar's efforts to become self-sufficient, Hassad in coordination with the Ministry of Commerce and Industry has established 20 strategic grain stores in Al-Wukair which are divided among warehouses for wheat and others for barley. Currently, Hassad can store 250,000 tons of grain but plans to expand the warehouses to handle over 300,000 tons when construction is completed.
Hassad produced more than 3.6 million bags of barley in 2021 in addition to supplying approximately 50,000 tons of the grain to approved distributors for distribution to livestock breeders.
Al Sadah said that, in general, food prices during the past two years have been steadily increasing, especially before the conflict in the Black Sea region occurred, when the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) measured its highest price ever. The rise in prices is primarily due to a combination of factors such as supply shortages, supply chain problems, and Covid-19.
As a result, Hassad and its partners will manage the supply and shipping operations in a highly efficient way, leading to relatively low costs.
Al Sadah emphasized that Hassad and the other companies in the food and agricultural sectors, whether in the public or private sectors, do not have conflicting roles; there is in fact strategic integration between state institutions, such as at the time of the blockade of Qatar.
He also mentioned the company's many global investments in the food and agriculture fields, both of a commercial and strategic nature. These investments directly result in Qatar's food security.
Approximately 21% of the company's portfolio is allocated to the agricultural sector, 23% to the poultry sector, 21% to the meat sector, 12% to the logistics and supply sectors, 14% to the grain sectors, 7% to the dairy sectors, and 2% to the fish sectors.
In 2018, Hassad launched an initiative to support local farmers by establishing the Mahaseel for Marketing and Agricultural Services as one of its subsidiaries, after having studied the requirements of the local market and determining the necessary support mechanisms for the agricultural private sector, the purpose is to relieve farmer's burdens of the marketing process by marketing their vegetables on the local market and by providing them with many agricultural services to encourage them to increase production and raise quality.
Currently, Mahaseel provides agriculture services to about 400 local farms, including marketing 30 types of vegetables through a network of more than 100 outlets in the country. In 2021, it was able to market nearly 19 million kilograms of local vegetables in the local market.
In response to the shortfall in vegetables being produced in the summer, Al Sadah mentioned the investment in a local harvest through the Arab Qatari Agricultural Production Company (QTFA), which has a farm that typically produces vegetables over 200 hectares in the Al Sheehaniya area, pointing out that the company produces around 7,000 tons of vegetables (28 types) which are sold locally.
He also mentioned that QTFA uses different agricultural methods during high temperatures in summer, such as refrigerated and non-refrigerated greenhouses and high-tech greenhouses, and in 2021, they switched to modern irrigation systems, increased the area of agricultural land covered rather than open fields, and established several farms while farming without soil and utilizing latest irrigation equipment.
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Image credit & Source: QNA