Sustainability in Qatar Rests on Food Security
While Qatar is making remarkable strides in its quest to become a global sustainability laboratory, the country must improve the security of its food supply. In a country with little water, this is a huge challenge, but not impossible. No matter how energy efficient and cutting edge its buildings or clean energy sector may prove, an economy that only produces 10 percent of its food is susceptible to spikes in food prices. It does not matter that Qatar has large stockpiles of oil and gas, which will only become more valuable this decade: its people and expat workforce have got to eat. A hardy farming sector must take root in this tiny Gulf country. Andrew Francis, a researcher at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) in Doha, outlines the steps Qatar is taking to address the future of its food supply. As Mr. Francis explains in the Gulf Times:
To increase domestic food production, the agriculture sector needs to be stimulated. The sector is being expanded with an additional 1,400 farms, along with a proposed new “Agricultural City” which will manufacture foodstuff for domestic and neighboring markets. Educational initiatives will also seek to attract young people to agriculture, and 1,500 government backed long-term supply loans are being offered to improve farmers’ security and jump start the industry. Solar desalination and hydroponics are parts of the equation. If this program succeeds, Qatar will not only be a leader in clean energy and green building. Professionals from this emerging Middle East leader will have the opportunity to teach and inspire other farmers and food growers around the world to help their people reach self sufficiency and economic resilience.