Qatar’s preparedness for the food security challenges that accompanied the pandemic, which led to a sharpened focus on agri-tech solutions, such as vertical farming and hydroponic techniques, is explored in a report released by Oxford Business Group (OBG).
The new Covid-19 Response Report produced by OBG, in partnership with retail chain LuLu Hypermarket, maps out Qatar’s successful efforts to strengthen food security and enhance self-sufficiency by stepping up domestic production capacity and easing reliance on imports.
Titled ‘Food Security in Qatar’, the report provides in-depth analysis of the topic, ranging from food production to retail, in an easy-to-navigate and accessible format, supported by key data and infographics.
With lifestyle-related diseases, such as obesity and diabetes, a concern, the report also considers the part that food retailers could play in ensuring healthy food options are widely available at affordable prices.
Other topical issues explored include the expansion of e-commerce offerings, which accelerated during the pandemic and are expected to support food security goals over time by ensuring essential food items are always available.
The report charts the critical role LuLu is playing in Qatar’s efforts to meet its self-sufficiency targets, which include engaging closely with domestic farmers to ensure a consistent and quality supply of local produce in its stores.
It also looks in detail at the measures LuLu implemented to keep both staff and shoppers safe during the pandemic, which included maintaining strict social distancing, implementing personal protection and hygiene procedures, and providing e-commerce and digital payment options.
In addition, the report includes an interview with Dr Mohamed Althaf, LuLu Group International’s director, in which he shares his thoughts on several topical issues, including the lessons Qatar learned from the trade restrictions imposed by some Gulf neighbours in 2017 ahead of the pandemic.
“Qatar diversified its sources of food imports, recalibrated various supply chains, upgraded logistics capabilities with a new port, streamlined cargo movements at the airport, and enhanced storage and cold-chain facilities. As a result, the country was in a relatively resilient position in terms of food security when the pandemic began,” he said.
Jana Treeck, OBG’s managing director for the Middle East, said Qatar’s food security initiatives dovetail well with global initiatives and targets from the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, while its efforts to diversify the national economy were already delivering results before the Covid-19 outbreak.
“The pandemic has sharpened the focus on food security and the challenges relating to it, with the September 2021 UN Food Systems Summit expected to strengthen international engagement on how to combat this topical issue. Against this backdrop, we expect to see a rapid expansion in the global agri-tech market, with Qatar, alongside other markets in the Gulf, ripe for investment,” Treeck said.
The report on food security in Qatar forms part of a series of tailored reports that OBG is currently producing with its partners, alongside other highly relevant, go-to research tools, including a range of country-specific Growth and Recovery Outlook articles and interviews.