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Prince Charles during a visit to Al Safwa Farm on Friday.
DOHA: Prince Charles concluded his visit to Qatar on Friday with a tour of Al Safwa Farm on the outskirts of Doha, where he was briefed about Qatar’s ambitious National Food Security Programme (QNFSP).
The national programme aims to guarantee “safe water in our drinking glasses and fresh, affordable and healthy foods in our markets,” the Prince of Wales was told by QNFSP’s Executive Chairman Fahad bin Mohammed Al Attiya.
Owned and operated by Nassir bin Ali Khamis Al Kuwari and family, the farm provided an ideal backdrop for a discussion of the serious national food and water security challenges facing Qatar.
AI Kuwari was joined by Al Attiya and a group of experts who provided the Prince of Wales and his delegation with a hands-on tour of innovative and sustainable agricultural techniques being used by the AI Kuwari family in the farm.
“Farming in Qatar is a very hard thing today. But a simple walk through the fields and greenhouses of a farm like the one the AI Kuwari family has built here is enough to inspire anyone that we can certainly do better and produce more if we innovate and plan responsibly,” said Al Attiya.
“We can balance smart growth and development with the responsibility we have to future generations to build a safe, healthy and resilient place to call home,” he added.
“And we can achieve this in ways that combine both responsible international collaboration and local agricultural production to put safe and healthy food on our families’ tables. By working together, we can build a nation that has the flexible and resilient capacity to guarantee safe water in our drinking glasses and fresh, affordable and healthy foods in our markets. This kind of long-term capacity development requires careful and responsible investment and planning, but it can and must be done.”
“The food and agricultural price shocks of 2008 were a clear signal for Qatar,” recounted AI Attiya.
In 2008, the Heir Apparent H H Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad AI Thani gathered a task force from across all sectors and set out a mandate to develop an integrated national master plan that would set a responsible and coordinated course for increased resiliency for Qatar in the face of these challenges.
Emiri Decision No. 45 of 2011 empowered QNFSP to build on the input of the task force and continue developing the framework of this national master plan and its related policy recommendations.
“Since that time, QNFSP has worked with researchers, local producers and global experts to deliver its ‘Discovery’ and ‘Proof of Concept’ phases and is slated to deliver its next phase of development on the National Master Plan in third quarter of this year,” said Al Attiya
The Prince joined AI Kuwari for a walk through the fields and greenhouses of AI Safwa Farm and the two discussed at length the importance of local farm production, connecting people to the land, community and a healthy lifestyle.
Al Kuwari shared with the Prince his concerns for future access to water supplies for agriculture if steps are not taken to provide alternative sources to rapidly depleting groundwater supplies, and the two discussed the importance of long-term planning in boosting research, development of better practices, and progress on market and pricing models that encourage responsible use of resources.