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Farming in Qatar: the portable farm 18, March 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Qatar.
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Qatar currently imports well over 90% of its food from abroad. This is not the most sensible of policies and it is currently being addressed by authorities. This excellent little Al Jazeera clip shows one of the possible futures for Qatar and other countries like it. Here, in a ‘proof of concept’ rather than a profitable business idea to be rolled out, Japanese companies have designed a farm in a shipping container growing lettuces.

Whilst ideas such as this may be a bit far fetched, Qatar is seeking to grow more food in its own borders. This necessitates a closed atmosphere for most of the year and far better water management that is currently available. Saudi Arabia, conversely, after slaving for decades to grow its own food recently decided to scrap these policies for it was just too costly in terms of water.

This desire to secure food resources outwith national borders has led to what many describe as neo-colonial land-grabbing in various poor countries across the world. Originally Qatar, like their neighbors, bought swathes of land in, for example, Sudan. Now, however, Qatar appears to have changed policies and is buying up local food companies instead of just the land. Hassad foods in Qatar has been leading this particular charge. Many see this as a far more acceptable way to secure stronger ties abroad without the negative publicity that comes from directly buying the land out from under often impoverished natives. Yet whether there is actually a difference between the two policies is debatable.