Qatar to boost organic farming
January 30 2016 10:04 PM
Organic products on display at the festival
Organic products on display at the festival

Doha

The agriculture department is planning to increase the number of organic farms from two to six in the next phase as part of Qatar's efforts to expand the production of healthy food.

Yousef al-Khelaifi, director of the Agriculture Affairs Department at the Ministry of Municipality and Environment (MME), said the ministry is in favour of organic farming because of its positive impact on man, animals and the environment. Though the project is still in its initial phase, two organic farms, Al-Safwah and Al-Sedra, are already in operation and both have achieved great results, he said.

Al-Khelaifi pointed out that the transition from traditional farming into organic ones could take up to two three years. "However, for the land that is used for cultivation for the first time, organic farming can be started immediately. As organic farming mainly depends on natural and biological sources instead of fertilizers and chemicals, there should be a transitional period of minimum two years when shifting from traditional agricultural methods to organic production."

Al-Khelaifi was speaking to local Arabic daily Arrayah on the sidelines of a festival of Qatari organic products, held at Al-Mazrouah Yard on Friday. He said the festival was aimed at introducing locally produced organic produce to consumers. The festival also featured a chef who served dishes from made from these products to consumers. In addition, the festival was a good opportunity to promote organic farming in the country.

Regarding prices, he said that locally produced organic food items cost less than the imported alternatives. "Yet, they are double the price of traditionally produced items," he said adding these rates were reasonable and acceptable due to the high cost of production using organic methods.

He stressed that MME was keen to encourage farmers to adopt organic farming and officers are sent on regular field tours to introduce farmers to the benefits and advantages of this method.

Meanwhile, Nasser al-Kuwari, chairman of Al-Safawa farm, which is the first Qatari organic farm, said that he started operations in 2012. "We started with only four products: cucumber, tomatoes, pepper and zucchini. Now we are producing 28 different varieties of vegetables and plants."

He was of the opinion that paying a higher price for organic products was worth it, considering the hosts of benefits accruing from it. "The whole exercise has to be taken as an investment for a healthy life and sound environment."

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