Agriculture in Qatar
The state of Qatar is a small peninsula located in the Arabian Gulf and is among the richest countries globally. Qatar is a highly urbanized country with 99.1% of its population living in urban areas. It is largely dependent on food imports to feed its population of 2.88 million. Country has a hot desert climate. Environmental conditions:
- sparse precipitation,
- high summer temperatures often experienced together with high humidity,
- high solar radiation,
- poor soil,
- strong winds,
Present considerable problems for agricultural production and agriculture has been traditionally limited to the months between October and April. Although, this period of production can be slightly extended for summer crops like melons, okra, and eggplants. The total arable area that could potentially be cultivated in Qatar is 65,000 ha and this area has been constant over the past years. The agricultural sector in Qatar utilizes 91% of all renewable freshwater resources in the state . Aquifers supply 36% of the country’s water production, mostly in agriculture. Rainfall re-charges aquifers with an estimated annual amount of 80 mm Qatar’s agricultural sector has expanded in recent years due to the country’s increased food demands caused by its rapid population growth and economic development. Despite that Qatar continues to rely on food imports, Qatar's agricultural products are consumed locally, providing 70 percent and 40 percent of the consumption of summer and winter vegetables, respectively. In addition to vegetables, Qatar produces cereals, fruits and dates, eggs, poultry, and dairy products.
Although agriculture is an emerging activity in Qatar, contributing to just 0.2% of GDP in 2017, the value-added as a contribution to GDP from the agriculture, forestry, and fisheries sector, increased from 145 million dollars in 2010 to 305 million $ in 2017, an increase of 110% over these seven year Agricultural produce is dominating the share in amount (tonnes) and consequently, value ($) among fisheries and forestry produces, especially since there is no forestry activity in the country. Fisheries accounted for 33,841 tonnes out of 1.3 million tonnes in a total of agricultural products imports and 773 tons out of 14,157 tonnes in a total of exports for 2017, whereas the remaining share is for agricultural production which includes plant, meat, dairy products, and eggs Because of Qatar’s limited resources and harsh climate, it has traditionally imported more than 90% of food requirements from more than 100 countries, like the Netherlands, Kenya, South Africa, New Zealand, India, etc.
Sheep, chickens, and goats are Qatar's most common domestic livestock animals, representing 96.9% of domestic livestock production. Qatar's top agri-food and seafood imports in 2019 were fresh lamb carcases, milled rice, live sheep, frozen fowl, and frozen fowl offal. Key source countries were India, Australia, Turkey, and the United States (U.S.). The traditional limitations to agriculture caused by the harsh summer climate and the limited extent of fertile soil could be rendered irrelevant with the adoption of soilless cultivation techniques, (e.g., cultivation in growth bags using soil substitutes such as cocopeat, rockwool, or perlite) and advanced greenhouse technologies. Greenhouse farming with soilless cultivation techniques such as hydroponics or aquaponics could potentially greatly increase food production in Qatar.