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A view of a display by the Qatar National Food Security Programme (QNFSP) at the sustainability expo at the Doha Exhibition Centre. The stall is segmented into QNFSP Strategy showcasing, farmer market carts that have only domestic produce on display and Filaha Project that demonstrates traditional farming methods of the communities of the Mena region.
BY MOHAMMAD SHOEB
DOHA: Qatar, in its effort to achieve food security, has taken many steps, and as a result of its “good food security strategy” the country is going to change the situation in the years to come, a senior official of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) told The Peninsula on the sidelines of the UNFCCC (COP18) here.
“Qatar has launched its own national food security programme and I participated in a conference only two weeks ago where it presented for Qatar and also for the other dry lands an alliance to increase food production in the region in order to be less dependent”, said Alexander Muller, Assistant Director-General for Natural Resources Management and Environment Department (NR) at FAO.
However, he also added that the soil conditions and water resources in Qatar are not enough to produce food for everybody. So in the next several years Qatar will continue to export energy and import food. “I am aware that they are going to change the situation which is a sign of a good food security strategy”.
Asked to comment about the significance of food security and food sovereignty in the context of GCC countries, he said: “There is an intensive debate, ‘is food security enough or should we have food sovereignty? From an FAO point of view, we are respecting what our member countries want. Some countries want to focus on food sovereignty while others want a food security at a global scale which includes trade also. We are committed to serving the needs of our member countries.”
While replying to a question on the use of limited food grains to produce bio-fuel which further aggravates hunger, he said: “The bio-fuel debate is a very complex one, and one cannot say it (bio-fuel) is good or bad. It depends how bio-fuels are being produced.”
Asked how nations should maintain balance between the two critical issues such as ‘climate change’ and ‘food security’, he said: “It is also one of the most important issues under UNFCCC. On the one hand we know that climate change has already started to affect food production. On the other hand agriculture also contributes to climate change, because of its green house gas (GHG) emissions; so in the next few years we have to increase productivity of farms and at the same time better use the mitigation potential of agriculture. And we have to do that in a way that there is no contradiction between food security and mitigation.”
Asked, if high energy prices a bane or boon from the GHGs perspective, he said: “Energy prices also drive the prices of food as a result of its cascading effect. So we need a global governance to achieve food security so that every person has enough food to eat.”