The Qatari government’s strategy of using the country’s groundwater resources for agriculture is now beginning to appear untenable. Qatar’s groundwater is considered a “first order resource,” which means it is a resource that is becoming scarcer relevant to population and time. It is estimated that groundwater is extracted at a rate of approximately 220 mil/m3 per anum compared to a recharge rate of approximately 56 mil/m3 per anum. Increased water salinity has led to land degradation and a decline in crop yields resulting in the abandonment of farms. In 2003/2004, 356 out of 1,265 registered farms were abandoned as a result of increased water salinity having led to land degradation and a decline in crop yields.
The over exploitation of the available groundwater is not sufficient to meet the current and future agricultural water demands. Water is considered by farmers as the second biggest problem which they face for agricultural development, and more than half of total farm areas remain uncultivated due to limitations in available irrigation water. On average there are four working wells per farm and 16% of farmers have reported that at least one of their wells has dried out. The situation is also not helped by the loss of large quantities of water as a result of low irrigation efficiency.
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