An alliance of renowned Spanish agro-business companies dubbed as ‘AgroQatar’ wants to share its expertise with local farm owners, ensuring profitability and year-round production of vegetables and fruits in Qatar, it was announced.
Spanish ambassador Ignacio Escobar, who led the matchmaking event at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Centre on Sunday, said ‘AgroQatar’ was “created especially to facilitate the development of agribusiness in the country.”
“The Spanish solution is the most advanced, efficient and adapted integrated system able to produce throughout the year a variety of crops with the highest quality and in the most sustainable and cost-efficient way in Qatar,” the envoy noted.
Ambassador Ignacio Escobar said these companies have more than 60 years’ experience and use technologies that provide sustainable financial returns, cost competitiveness, increased annual production, and reduced production periods, among others.
The matchmaking event was organised with the support of the Spanish embassy in Doha and ICEX (the Spanish Export Promotion Authority), and in collaboration with the Ministry of Economy and Commerce; and Ministry of Municipality and Environment.
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the event, Forestaria COO Juan Carlos Santiago said the system are bringing to Qatar is one of the most successful business models in the world, adapted in the desert of Almeria, located in the southern part of Spain.
“The (Qatar) government already published one tender. We contacted the two winners of the tender and the government wanted us to collaborate with them in developing their farm, 100 hectares each is huge for agriculture,” he said.
The area is located in the middle of the southern part of Qatar, between Doha and the Saudi border, according to Santiago.
Forestaria is one of the 12 companies of AgroQatar, which is now in talks with local farmers and investors about the entire process of developing greenhouses suitable for Qatar’s climate.
The package being offered by AgroQatar includes planning, design, manufacturing, construction, project management, technical assistance, training, supplies and maintenance, operation of the facilities, distribution and marketing of the product, and financing.
“We are going to offer directly to them from the Spanish government this model to finance any project coming here, and we invited today the two winners of the tender,” he explained. “Discussion is progressing and we are collaborating with the design of the hub.”
According to the embassy, FIEM (Fondo de Inversión para la Estabilización Macroeconómica), described as a powerful public financial instrument which belongs to the Ministry of Economy, Industry and Commerce of Spain, is ready to support Qatar investors both public and private.
“The projects have to be studied in a case by case basis. Once a project receives a positive assessment, the payment will be disbursed after the final approval by the FIEM Committee and the Council of Ministers of Spain,” Escobar pointed out.
He explained that the financial conditions consist of a fixed non-market interest rate up to 8.5 years for the repayment terms and a maximum financing disbursement of up to 85% of the contract value. FIEM only finances senior debt, but does not participate in equity.
success story of intensive agriculture
From a poor region in Spain, Almeria has become one of the richest with its 50,000 hectares of greenhouses – making it the “most intensive production area in the world, as well as the largest supplier of vegetables and fruits to Europe,” according to the Spanish embassy in Doha.
The most successful model of intensive agriculture in arid climates worldwide has been developed in Almeria, implementing the most advanced systems of production, logistics, processing, distribution, marketing, traceability and food safety.
According to AgroQatar, this Southeastern region in Spain is the European area with the most similar conditions to Qatar. The system used by Spanish agribusiness companies is designed to meet the challenge of agriculture in the country.
The Peninsula Qatar