Qatar will increase spending on imports some 153 percent, to the tune of $3.3 billion, in the next decade, according to a new report from the Economist.
The predictions of the Economist Intelligence Unit contrast starkly with plans by Qatar, which currently imports 90 percent of its food, to achieve food security within 10 years, in part by investing billions of dollars into a “Farm City.”
The project would focus on fruit and vegetable growers, as well as livestock and fisheries, an agricultural and environment committee official said in September.
Analysts say that in Qatar, as is the case in the rest of the Gulf, increasing per capita income and rapid population growth are quickly driving up the cost of food in the region.
Qatar Tribune reports:
According to the report, Qatar’s food imports in 2010 stood at $1.3 billion.
It said that with just 1.6 percent of its land being arable and agriculture contributing only 0.1 percent to the country’s GDP, Qatar, like the UAE and Oman, imports more than 75 percent of the poultry and red meat consumed in the country.
“Along with Kuwait and Bahrain, Qatar depends on imports for over 75 percent of its total fruit consumption. For vegetables, Qatar, along with the UAE and Bahrain, also depend heavily on imports,” the EIU report adds.
How quickly Qatar can transform its agricultural capabilities is anyone’s guess. But the EIU’s findings certainly do throw doubt on the country’s abilities to meet the deadlines set in its ambitious master plan.