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Fahad bin Mohammed Al Attiya Chairman of Qatar National Food Security Programme, speaking at the opening of Global Food security challenges conference in Doha yesterday. Others from left are Dame Barbara Stocking and Dr Ahmed Al Meraikhi. (Abdul Basit)
DOHA: Global Dry Land Alliance (GDLA), a Qatar-led initiative to integrate dry land countries for support in times of need, will be launched in November next year, said Fahad Mohammed Al Attiyah, Chairman, Qatar National Food Security Programme (QNFSP).
Addressing a seminar on ‘Global Food Challenges’ yesterday, Al Attiyah said the Alliance was designed to build political will to further research in agriculture and build capacities to enable food production.
Initially, a small group of 10 to 20 member countries who are committed to the GDLA’s goals will comprise the Alliance, he said, adding it press on promoting multilateral partnerships for crisis prevention and response.
“Being a member of the GDLA will be a huge incentive because member countries can benefit from immediate response in times of crisis, but at the same time they have to have obligation on co-members,” he said, stressing each country should have their own national food security programmes to mitigate the impact of food and water crises besetting the world’s future.
Statistics show that one billion people go hungry every day, and demand for food is expected to increase by 70 percent by the end of year 2050. Climate change has rendered large areas incapable of food production, threatening food supply to hyper-arid areas such as the Mena region.
“Qatar depends 90 percent of its food on export and only 10 percent of land in Qatar is cultivated,” he stressed on the urgency of having the QNFSP, whose integrated master plan will see full completion in 2014 and implementation from 2015 to 2024.
Under Qatar’s local food security programme, the sectors that will be expanded to ensure holistic sustainable solution to food security are renewable energy, desalination and water management, agricultural production and food processing.
In this connection, Al Attiyah said Qatar will soon sign an agreement with a leading German institute specialising on solar technology to establish solar sites set to lessen dependency on fossil fuel and promote sustainable energy source when it comes to the implementation of the QNFSP.
He underlined the importance of education and research as strategies in achieving the QNFSP goals saying 10 hydroponic facilities will be established in10 educational institutions across Qatar to engage students of various age groups on the concept of agriculture.
“In terms of education, we will have large-scale projects providing vocational training on technology in collaboration with Education City universities and other NGOs,” he added.
Speaking at the event, Ambassador Dr Ahmed Al Muraikhi, Director of International Development, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Director General of Qatar Development Fund, underscored the significance of establishing partnerships among the public, private and NGO sectors to solve the problem of food and water shortage.
On her part, Dame Barbara Stocking, Chief Executive, Oxfam GB, presented the GROW initiative which for the past several years have established presence in 98 of the world’s poorest countries with the aim of ensuring everyone has enough food to eat through a number of projects such as public and private investment on food production by smallholder farmers especially women who comprise majority of food producers yet the ones who suffer hunger the most.
She lauded Qatar saying it can take the lead to make other countries understand how to deal with the urgent issue of food security.