Food security in Qatar

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) defines food security as providing food in quantities and qualities that meet an individual’s needs on an ongoing basis. Achieving sustainable food security has been a major challenge over the decades due to many factors such as political instability, land desertification, water scarcity, and environmental degradation. In this context, the issue of food security has become of particular importance in the State of Qatar, as it is considered one of the pillars of security and economic independence, and plays a major role in securing a decent life for the people. Qatar is witnessing remarkable development in the field of food security, as it has achieved remarkable progress in the food production sectors. In 2021, Qatar ranked first among Arab countries and 24th globally in the food security index, which reflects efforts to achieve self-sufficiency and enhance local production. The index is based on several criteria such as consumer affordability, availability and quality of food, diet diversity and agricultural infrastructure.

Dimensions of food security in Qatar include thrift, which is providing food in sufficient quantities and storing it strategically, and food safety, which is ensuring its health and safety, easy access to it through appropriate prices, and stability to maintain food conditions. The issue of food security faces major challenges in Qatar, such as climate change, high temperatures, and agricultural challenges. However, the country shows a firm commitment to supporting modern technologies in agriculture to overcome the effects of climate change and increase local production. Modern food markets and agricultural parks, expansion and modernization of logistics infrastructure and creation of strategic storage reserves represent important steps towards enhancing food security in Qatar.

Supporting food security research and investment in agriculture highlights the country’s dedication to strengthening the agricultural sector.
The following table shows the points obtained by Qatar in the other sub-indices in the food security index, which are as follows:

Indicator Points
Food saving index 74
Food Access Policy Commitments Index 100
Food loss index 85
Food quality and safety index 84
Natural resources and resilience index 43
Climatic exposure index 45

From the previous table, Qatar has ranked highly in the food security index. It has obtained 74 points out of 100 in the food provision index. As for the food access policy commitments index, it has achieved 100 points out of 100, thus being very high in this index. It received 85 points out of 100 points in the food loss index, and as for the food quality and safety index, it obtained 84 points. The table shows the other sub-indices, and despite achieving low points in the two indicators of natural resources and resilience and exposure to climate factors, the state is striving To confront all challenges and achieve sufficient food security within it.

Agriculture and fisheries sector and sufficiency rates:

Food security is linked to the agricultural and fishing sectors in Qatar, as the country strives to achieve high levels of self-sufficiency, whether in the production of red meat, fish and vegetables. The volume of local production of vegetables witnessed a noticeable jump from about 66 thousand tons, with a self-sufficiency rate of 24%, to about 103 thousand tons, with a self-sufficiency rate of 41%.

The target target for the self-sufficiency ratio in 2023 is 70% for local vegetables. With regard to green fodder, the volume of local production increased to 100 thousand tons, achieving a self-sufficiency rate of 45%, and continued to rise to 115 thousand tons and a self-sufficiency rate of about 54%.
As for the dairy sector and its products, it achieved complete self-sufficiency, as the production volume reached 230 thousand tons, equivalent to more than 106%. As for the volume of local production of fresh poultry, the country maintained its stability at 28 thousand tons, achieving self-sufficiency of 124%.

With regard to red meat, the production volume increased to 12.5 thousand tons, achieving a self-sufficiency rate of 24%, compared to 8 thousand tons and a sufficiency rate of 16%, and the self-sufficiency rate in 2023 targets about 30%. Local table egg production increased to 11 thousand tons, achieving a self-sufficiency rate of 35%, compared to 6 thousand tons and a self-sufficiency rate of 20%. It is expected that the self-sufficiency rate of table eggs will reach 70% by 2023.

The following table shows the volume of local production available for consumption and imports and the self-sufficiency rates during two years (2020-2021):

  2020 2021
Local production Imports Available for consumption Sufficiency ratios Local production Imports Available for consumption Sufficiency ratios
Red meat 10857 55012 65055 16.69% 11069 50174 60428 18.32%
Chicken and bird meat 35267 131254 166521 21.18% 27667 114400 141854 19.50%
fish 15087 33845 48855 30.88% 16555 34882 51251 32.30%
eggs 9358 38659 47967 19.51% 11134 34451 45585 24.42%
Vegetables 103693 366031 468688 22.12% 101882 389928 488693 20.85%
Fruit and palm 26914 258386 284471 9.46% 29933 265574 293093 10.21%
The previous table shows the local production, imports, availability for consumption, and sufficiency rates. We find that the available consumption exceeded the local production of red meat in Qatar in 2020, as it achieved a sufficiency rate of 16.69%. The percentage increased in 2021 and achieved a sufficiency rate of 18%. It seeks to achieve higher rates and achieve food security. As for chicken and bird meat, the sufficiency rate decreased in 2021 compared to 2020, and it achieved fish sufficiency rates of 32% in 2021. Qatar seeks to achieve high sufficiency rates and rely on local production instead of importing from abroad, and the climate in the State of Qatar poses challenges. To develop agricultural and fisheries projects on a large scale, even though they are among the important economic sectors that help ensure a sustainable future and food security for the country.

The State of Qatar has succeeded in developing the agricultural sector through agricultural reserves and modern irrigation systems. The government also supports a number of initiatives, which are as follows:
  • Agricultural census project.
  • Developing many irrigation and water monitoring systems.
  • Implementing the agricultural sciences program at Qatar University.

Food security strategy in Qatar:

The State of Qatar has developed a strong strategy to enhance food security, and this plan focuses on the main pillars of:

  • Strengthening local food production, with the aim of achieving greater independence in food production.
  • Diversify import sources to ensure stability of supply chains and avoid excessive dependency on specific sources.
  • Establishing a strategic reserve that balances food stocks, ensuring the availability of food at all times.
  • Making optimal use of the country's natural and water resources, with a focus on environmental sustainability.
  • Integrating renewable energy into the agricultural sector to ensure the continuity and stability of food production, as part of sustainability efforts.

Qatar is focusing on implementing a set of integrated policies and strategies across multiple sectors, and is undertaking long-term planning to address any potential challenges and ensure the continuity of food supply chains. This includes reacting to sudden interruptions in food supplies, as occurred during the coronavirus pandemic. The Qatar National Food Security Program is working to implement this national strategy, targeting 70% of the country’s food needs by 2023. The program focuses on strengthening the four main sectors: agriculture, water, renewable energy, and food processing, by stimulating sustainability and innovation in these sectors.

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