Had there been enough warehouses in Qatar, the consumer would have been paying lower prices for food and eating more nutritious fruits and vegetables.
With a population of 2.15 million, Qatar sources around 90 percent of its food from other countries.
Qatari importers source food from neighbouring countries and not from the countries of origin. To import directly from the producing countries they are required to place large orders which they are unable to do because of inadequate storage facilities.
Transported from one country to another, fresh produce loses about 30 to 40 percent of its nutritional value by the time it reaches the consumer’s table. A long supply chain also means more middlemen and higher transportation charges — factors that push up the final prices.
“The country needs to develop big warehouses so that importers can source food in big volumes from the countries of origin instead of buying from second or third parties,” said Ali Hasan Al Khalaf, Chairman of Qatar Consumer Complexes. “There are not enough warehouses to support the food requirements of the current level of population as per the level of food security we are aspiring to achieve,” he said.
Experts also say that the government needs to invest in developing Qatar’s logistics sector. According to industry estimates, the Qatari logistics market was valued at QR20bn in 2012, and out of this only 10 percent was outsourced (in the UAE there is around 25 percent outsourcing while in developed markets this figure is approximately 45 percent). The logistics market in Qatar is expected to be valued at QR27bn by 2015, with 15 percent of the market being outsourced.
Reacting to the demand, the government recently announced the Qatar National Food Security Plan, which outlines a 10-year road map for improving Qatar’s food and water security.
Under the plan, Qatar is planning a transition to high-efficiency production and better crop selection for farms in the country to be able to produce approximately 40 percent of the nation’s food (by volume). If this ambitious target is achieved, it will reduce the high level of dependence on food imports.
More food production in Qatar will not only reduce food prices but also make food on our tables healthier.