Agriculture is a strategic sector in Qatar because of its critical role in the nation's Food Security. Domestic agriculture faces development problems mainly related to the scarcity of irrigation water, the poor quality of the soils, and adverse climatic conditions. Qatar imports over 90% of its food requirements. The agricultural trade deficit in 2008 amounted to QR 4.38 billion, or US $1.2 billion.
Expanding the agricultural sector will require the introduction of “best practices” and a farming business model that stresses economic efficiency, optimal use of scarce resources, minimum impact on the environment and profitable and sustainable agriculture. One key strategy will be the deployment of water use efficient crop production technologies such as protected and controlled environment production and hydroponics as well as advanced irrigation systems. The agriculture sector will also require a market stabilization plan that contains both inputs and subsidies and a price support mechanism.
The massive planning effort required to build up the agriculture sector will require well-managed stakeholder participation; comprehensive land use planning and agricultural zoning; revised agricultural policies, legislation, and regulation; a comprehensive strategy for agriculture research and extension and university-level training; and comprehensive plans and strategies for the fisheries and livestock sectors.
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