What are the main areas of focus where Hassad Food has been working on during these last years, and what have been your main milestones?
Hassad is Qatar's premier investor in the food sector; in the last few years, we have been focusing on investing in key strategic investments both locally and internationally, to support the country's food security efforts.
How do you assess the evolution of the food sector in Qatar over the last year?
The local food sector has been growing even before the blockade, but it accelerated over the last few years, which resulted in achieving great progress in our self-sufficiency levels. Moreover, we have seen great improvements in the quality of local produce as well.
What will be the exact role of Hassad in the new markets? Moreover, how does the establishment of these markets contribute to food security?
Hassad established Aswaq, a subsidiary of Hassad, to be the main operator of the new markets, in coordination with the relevant government entities. By funding the development of the new central markets and managing it through Aswaq, we aim to create an efficient platform to support in sourcing the local produce and international imports to fulfill the needs of the producer, trader, and consumer. These three state-of-the-art markets will accommodate the current and future needs of the country, as they cover different regions of the country. Moreover, we have allocated a main activity for each market: fishery, livestock, or vegetables and fruits. We also included multiple sub-activities in each market to meet the needs of the consumer. It is worth mentioning that all three markets will be air conditioned to allow consumers to shop conveniently at any time of the year.
What new technologies are you incorporating and how will consumers and the country benefit from these new developments?
In coordination with our partners, we have launched Qatar's first pilot water-saving greenhouse at one of Hassad's greenhouses in Al Shahaniya to contribute to food production in Qatar using innovative technologies that will help produce high-quality and sustainable products. Once we implement the innovative water saving system and apply the tailored fertilizer recipes in the pilot greenhouse, we will be able to increase production by around 20 times of the average farm in Qatar and reduce the water consumption by 90%, which will certainly contribute to the local agricultural development.
What will be the contribution of Mahaseel to the Qatari agriculture sector?
Hassad constantly aims to support the private agricultural sector and not compete with it; thus, Mahaseel, a subsidiary of Hassad specialized in providing marketing and agricultural services to local farmers, was established at the end of 2018. This was done following deep market analysis to identify an effective mechanism to provide the needed support to the private agriculture sector. Mahaseel will provide marketing services for local farmers, as well as provide several other agriculture-related services, with the aim of easing the burden on local farmers, so they can focus on enhancing the quality of their food, increasing the quantity of their produce, and supporting Qatar in achieving self-sufficiency.
What are the main goals and steps for Hassad for 2020?
We managed to establish a great foundation over the past couple of years with our investments locally and internationally. Now, we are looking to grow and secure other investments in line with our investment strategy.