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Volume :6 Issue : 21 1980      Add To Cart                                                                    Download

AGRICULTURAL DEVELOPMENT IN QATAR

Auther : Dr. Salah A. Beheiry

 

         Thirty years ago, there was hardly an acre of cultivated land in Qatar, thus the increasing population of the oil-producing desert State were obliged to import almost all their needs of food from both Arab and foreign countries.  Such imports increased substantially from 59 million QR to 360 million QR during the last eight years.  Recent efforts have enabled the country to put some 2000 hectors under the plough and that equals 0.17 percent of the total area of the peninsula.  The cultivated lands are dispersed over more than 400 farms in local Karstic depressions known locally as “Rodas” where mediocre sandy and soil accumulate along with limited potable groundwater resources.  Agricultural production is basically horticultural including a variety of vegetables and some fruits equaled in tonnage the same imported kinds for the first time last year, and that peak of the winter season 150 tons of tomatoes are being exported to neighbouring countries. 

            This colourful picture conceals a gloomy future because the universal problems of desert agriculture are all here represented in increased soil and water salinity, scarcity of water and skilled labour, and a limited arable area scattered over small patches in the northern and central parts of the country.  As a result, it is difficult to play modern irrigation techniques and mechanization.  Groundwater extracted for agricultural and domestic uses exceeds the natural recharge by 26 million cubic meters every year and if this progressive mining continued, fresh water in the underground reservoir would be depleted completely within 40 years.  Although the cultivable area is estimated to be around 30,000 hectors or 2.4 per cent of peninsular Qatar, lack of water is a serious setback.  Therefore, emphasis is now being given to the development of improved cultivation methods, water conservation of management practices in order to economize the groundwater, while at the same time maintaining a high level of production.  The privately owned farms receive government assistance including tractor ploughing, soil testing and improvement, plus seeds, fertilizers and pesticides all provided fee. This accounts for 25 percent of the total expenses of the agricultural process, otherwise most farmers would go out of business.  Nevertheless, quite a few land-owners desert their farms every year because of meager profits while others keep them for the purpose of casual retirement and occasional guest entertainment.

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