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Naif Alhanzab

Executive Director, Qatarat Agricultural development Company (QADCO)

Nasser Al Khalaf

Managing Director, Agrico

Qatar is able to boast of strong self-sustainability in agriculture as a result of government initiatives and the hard work of the sector’s top players.
How has the company developed in recent years amid the push for self-sustainability that resulted as a result of the recent blockade?

NAIF ALHANZAB QADCO was established during an extremely critical time of political blockade and has faced the challenge of leading in the agriculture scene. It has not participated in the economy for very long, nor was there much know-how in the local agriculture scene. However, all the challenges in the region gave us great motivation and by watching and learning from best practices in the sector, we were able to evolve at a faster pace. In addition, we had the support of the government, because all this came in line with the country’s strategic initiative of food security and under Vision 2030.

NASSER AL KHALAF The blockade did not affect us excessively, as Qatar was not dependent on neighboring countries for agriculture. Agrico has developed its own system for manufacturing locally in Qatar and the system has been patented in 2017. We did not believe that anyone had the right technology for Qatar because not much research had been done locally by major companies in terms of greenhouse technology. Through our own research and work, and after some years, we succeeded in producing every type of vegetable year-round. We have also changed the specifications of greenhouses themselves. We changed the concept of cooling and of the materials used. In order to change that, we knew that we would be hard pressed to get anyone to manufacture something so tailor made for Agrico, which would be but a small client for major companies around the world. And so we had to establish our own factory for these greenhouses and started our own supply chain with links from around the world. Since 2015, our supply chain has been fully independent without depending on any neighboring countries. When the blockade began in 2017, it did not affect us significantly other than logistics at the beginning. There may have been some aftershocks, but they were temporary, taking a few weeks to work through.

How are you looking to expand your operations?

NA One of our beliefs is that for every action, there is a formula that we have to follow. Finding the new formula for us is using the right techniques and the best research in order to get higher yield per hectare. We continuously invest in experimenting and trying new crop plantations. In fact, we have already succeeded in producing new varieties, and that is reflected in the increase of our product portfolio over the last few years. QADCO is always coming to the market with new products, and sometimes even in the same variety, such as colored cauliflowers and special types of melon, for example.

NAK We are focusing more on not expanding production, but on sharing and exporting our technology with different investors. That said, we are focused on developing and operating farms and marketing their products locally and internationally. Up until today, we have developed four different major farms in Qatar using Agrico’s technology and knowhow, and they are 100% operated by us to ensure a high yield and high-quality product in the market. As a family we have been in the food trading for many generations, distributing products after harvest as well. We began exporting our technology, including the development of an agriculture project in Oman. We are also negotiating in Kuwait as well and are at an advanced stage in negotiations with Malaysia and South Australia. These countries with hot climates are quite interested in the technology we are offering. Hopefully soon, Oman will be the first to receive our technology as an export from Qatar. It will be the same concept whereby we come in as a developer, then operator, and then handle marketing at the same time.

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