Green desert: Paving the way towards a sustainable future

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The global agricultural market is poised for significant growth in the coming years, driven by an increase in demand due to a rising population and a greater awareness of food security.

The United Nations (UN) projects the world’s population to rise from 8.1 billion to 9.8 billion by 2052. The World Bank reported that approximately 9.2% of the global population faced hunger in 2022, up from 7.9% in 2019. The urgency for action is now greater than ever.

Thanks to a strategic approach and innovative initiatives, Qatar is increasing its efforts to tackle this global problem, emerging as a pioneer for sustainable agriculture and environmental stewardship. The country leverages advanced technologies and global partnerships to harness its position as a thriving hub for advanced agricultural solutions. It also leads the fight against desertification. Recognising these endeavours and efforts, the Global Food Security Index 2021 awarded Qatar the first position in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

Building towards a sustainable future

Qatar is implementing strategic food and agricultural policies with an updated Qatar National Food Security Strategy announced this year, focusing on innovative solutions and sustainable systems. Additionally, the country’s Natural Resource Management Strategy seeks to enhance land use efficiency and deploy modern agricultural techniques to improve plant, animal and fishery production. Qatar is also intensifying efforts to adapt to climate change, conserve various resources and utilise renewable energy in the agricultural sector.

In addition to looking after its citizens, Qatar is actively contributing to international initiatives promoting sustainable development and food security in the least developed nations. Indeed, Hassad Food, Qatar’s agribusiness investment arm, is investing in more than 18 countries to diversify the nation’s food sources and contribute to global agricultural development.

Key factors revolutionising agriculture:

  • Automation: Robotics, sensors and soil sampling are used to gather data.
  • Geographic Information System (GIS): Analysing complex spatial data like rainfall, topography and soil elevation. The size of the GIS market in the agriculture sector reached over $4 billion in 2020 and is projected to be worth $10.54 billion in 2028.
  • Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning (AI/ML) and data science: Processing and channelling collected data by Internet of Things (IoT) devices and ML algorithms with data science. The number of IoT devices in agricultural practices reached 75 million in 2020.
  • Blockchain: Ensuring the safety of crops, preventing theft and fraud, efficiently managing the supply chain and balancing the food ecosystem.
  • Vertical farming and hydroponics: Growing crops in vertical layers and plants in nutrient-rich water, using less water, soil and space, making it 390 times more productive.

Major innovations in Qatar’s agricultural sector

Qatar’s agricultural sector is experiencing a transformational wave driven by technology. This has empowered local producers to make data-driven decisions, optimise resource allocation and minimise environmental impact.

Vertical farming, a relatively new method offering many benefits, has been enthusiastically adopted by Qatar. Vertical farming can be particularly beneficial in desert countries such as Qatar, where water is scarce and temperatures can soar. More food can be produced with fewer resources in desert regions using this method as growers can control temperature, humidity and light levels, creating a perfect growing environment.

Expo 2023 Doha provides a global stage for sustainability

Qatar is the first country in the MENA region to host the International Horticultural Exhibition (Expo 2023 Doha). Held under the theme ‘Green Desert - Better Environment’, the event aims to inspire and inform the international community about creative solutions to mitigate desertification. It provides an opportunity for collaboration and discussion and showcases the latest advancements in sustainable agriculture, environmental awareness and technology.

Organised in collaboration with the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) and the International Association for Horticultural Producers (AIPH), the event takes place at Al Bidda Park over 179 days. It provides a platform for change and a call for global consciousness and individual involvement. More than 80 countries are involved in Expo 2023 Doha, which is expected to attract three million visitors.

Investment opportunities in Qatar's agricultural sector

Qatar’s strategic focus on enhancing both local and global food security provides a wealth of opportunities for agriculture related businesses. Qatar welcomes foreign investment, with a variety of resources available to support international businesses to access opportunities in the agriculture sector. The Investment Promotion Agency Qatar (Invest Qatar) recently launched the Invest Qatar Gateway, enabling foreign investors to connect with Qatar’s business community and explore public-private partnership opportunities in the country.  The Ministry of Municipality (MM) and the Qatar Free Zones Authority are also working together to create investment opportunities in agritech, while the MM’s collaboration with Qatar National Research Fund on a joint research fund is enabling the development of innovative solutions to enhance the country’s food security.

Qatar offers foreign investors a valuable and competitive business climate. The country's stable and resilient economy, advanced digital infrastructure, pro-business regulations, vibrant knowledge ecosystem and seamless market access enable businesses to achieve their growth ambitions.

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