The Ministry of Municipality and Environment has plans to expand cultivated land of local farmers, Minister of Municipality and Environment, H E Mohammed bin Abdullah Al Rumaihi has said.
“We are thinking of increasing those productive farms that provide produce to the market. We will give them more space suitable to their programmes,” said Al Rumaihi, responding to a question from local media on the sidelines of the opening of the second Local Dates Festival yesterday at Souq Waqif.
Farm owners have to present feasibility studies and defend their ideas to avail of land expansion in addition to other services of the Ministry, he added.
“It’s not just a piece of land that we give but mostly technology and advice to increase their production for the market. We have a special programme even for the young farmers,” the Minister explained, adding the Agricultural Affairs Department is working with Qatar Development Bank on this programme. This year’s festival has seen a huge increase in the number of participating local farms, from 18 last year to 57 this year.
The festival provides a platform for local farms to directly sell popular variety of fresh dates at cheap and discounted prices such as Khalas, Khanizi, Barhi, and Shishi.
Khalas and Shishi are sold for QR8 per kilo and QR21 per three kilos while Khanizi is sold for QR6 per kilo and QR15 per three kilos. The ten-day festival forms part of Qatar’s keen interest in supporting and encouraging cultivation and production of all local produce including dates. It aims to promote various date varieties in the country and encourage farmers to cultivate high quality varieties that could compete locally and internationally through awareness of modern agriculture methods palm trees care.
The event also provides an opportunity for exchange of technical expertise among farmers and the introduction to residents and tourists to the local production of dates, which occupies a prominent position in Qatari culture and heritage.
The Ministry’s Agricultural Affairs Department and the Agricultural Research Department, as well as the Mahaseel Company and Qatfa Company are taking part at the festival. A specialised team at the Department of Agricultural Affairs took date samples from participating farms and sent to the laboratory of the Ministry of Public Health as part of the requirements for participation to ensure safety for consumers. Assistant Undersecretary for Agriculture and Fisheries Affairs at the Ministry of Municipality and Environment Sheikh Dr Faleh bin Nasser Al-Thani said the state is self-sufficient of dates by 84 percent and this percentage will rise soon to reach 95 percent according to a short-term plan. HE noted that the State has a stock of dates enough for two years.
Dr Faleh said that Qatar now produces through textile agriculture 20,000 palm seedlings a year, and it will increase with plans to 50,000 seedlings for luxury types of dates, with the replacement of some items with higher quality. During the festival, the Department of Agricultural Affairs and the Agricultural Research Department are providing the public all information related to the services provided by the Ministry in the field of dates production.
The Peninsula Qatar