By Andy Sambidge
Gulf state's farming plan as report highlights extent of GCC food security problem.
Qatar is looking to increase its arable land area using more solar power to generate sufficient water supply for farmers, it was reported on Sunday.
The Gulf state is aiming to tap into solar energy in a bid to multiply agriculture production, according to the Qatar National Food Security Programme (QNFSP), reported The Peninsula.
Fahad Al Attiya, chairman of QNFSP, told the paper: “The limited amount of arable land and the huge cost being incurred by farmers are key challenges facing the agriculture sector here. We hope to tackle this with emerging technology."
Qatar imports 90 percent of its food requirements, typical of the Gulf region's reliance on imports.
Qatar's move comes as a new report says Arab nations have reeled under a cumulative farm gap of more than $155 billion over the past nine years.
Except for fish and vegetables, Arabs are suffering from a shortage in all types of farm products and the gap has steadily worsened over the past two decades, showed the figures by the Arab Monetary Fund (AMF) in Abu Dhabi and the Khartoum-based Arab Organisation for Agricultural Development (AOAD).
The farm gap, the difference between imports and exports of food products, peaked at about $23bn in 2008 to bring the cumulative Arab food shortage to $155.5bn during 2000-2008, the report, cited by Emirates Business, showed.
The report showed total Arab food exports stood at only $10.5bn in 2008 while imports were as high as $33bn, their highest level.
It blamed poor water resources in the region, low land utilisation and investments.