Food security Qatar's top priority on developmental level: Al Kuwari
Food security is among the top priorities for Qatar on the developmental level and is one of the main pillars of the country’s security and economic independence in terms of securing the needs of future Qatari generations in line with Qatar National Vision 2030, said His Excellency the Minister of Commerce and Industry Ali bin Ahmed Al Kuwari.
HE the Minister said this during a panel discussion on food security at the Kuala Lumpur 2019 Summit, held under the title "The role of development in achieving national sovereignty" recently.
QNV aims to transform the country into a developed country in 2030, capable of achieving sustainable development and ensuring a decent living for its people for generations to come.
Al Kuwari explained that the “unfair blockade” imposed on the country since 2017 presented an important opportunity for Qatar to review its economic strategies and policies, in particular, modify its plans to achieve food security.
Qatar laid the foundations of its National Food Security Strategy 2019-2023 to unite efforts among concerned authorities, optimize the use of the country's natural and water resources, fortify the food security system against shocks during emergencies, identify priorities in terms of food security initiatives and projects, protect and promote local production, improve food quality and safety and maintain a safe and healthy strategic stock.
On the four pillars of Qatar’s National Food Security Strategy, HE Al Kuwari said Qatar aimed to enhance the contribution of the private sector to the implementation and development of food security projects and has pitched several projects to investors especially in the agricultural and industrial fields.
Consequently, the country was successful in achieving high levels of self-sufficiency in terms of various agricultural products and secure a strategic stock of commodities.
In a matter of only two years, Qatar’s self-sufficiency of dairy products increased from 27 percent to 106 percent and from 49 percent to 123 percent in terms of fresh poultry.
Al Kuwari said, on the industrial level, investments in the food industries sector also increased 126 percent to QR5.2 billion in 2019 compared to QR2.3 billion in 2016.
A set of mechanisms has also been established to take advantage of Qatar’s advanced infrastructure and strategic location to locally manufacture and produce food and agricultural products among other items and to export these products into regional and international markets.
In this regard, the minister highlighted the journey of Baladna Food Industries, which is “one of the most successful national ventures on the industrial level.”
He said the company contributed to Qatar’s self-sufficiency in terms of dairy products at 100 percent, noting that a memorandum of understanding was signed between Baladna and the Malaysian governmental Felcra Berhad to raise the industrial production capacity of both sides.
He also commended the efforts of the governmental and private sectors, which bolstered Qatar’s strategic position in food security as the country ranked first in the Arab world and 22 globally in terms of food growth, according to the latest 2018 World Food Index.
On Qatar’s efforts within the framework of the WTO to achieve food security, the minister said Qatar has pursued efforts to enhance and protect its national economic gains in the field of food security.
The country has sought to join the list of net food-importing developing countries (NFIDCs) in the World Trade Organization since 2014.
In March 2016, Qatar applied to the WTO’s Agriculture Committee to join the NFIDCs list, which offers its members a set of specific guarantees to enhance and protect their food security.
Qatar has joined a WTO informal group, which brings together several countries that aim to reduce discriminatory restrictions such as Singapore, Switzerland, Japan and other countries in cooperation with the European Union.
In this context, a joint paper was presented on the issue of export restrictions during the meeting of the WTO’s Agriculture Committee. The paper highlighted the importance of food security to many member states, particularly the least developed countries and net food-importing countries.
Al Kuwari explained the “unjust blockade imposed on Qatar is one of the most pronounced manifestations of protectionist tendencies that have been adopted by some countries and represent a major challenge not only on the economic level but also on the security level.”
He called for the establishment of a global system that ensures the sustainability of food supplies, especially for countries that depend on imports to secure their needs.
Qatar looks forward during this summit to prioritize the promotion of agricultural investments in Islamic countries and to encourage joint investments in this sector with a focus on the concept of value chains between neighboring countries to enhance regional integration.
The minister also urged joint efforts to devise innovative and effective solutions that enhance Islamic countries’ growth prospects to ensure a better future for their people.
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