HASSAD FOOD

Qatar 2019 | AGRICULTURE | INTERVIEW

Hassad Food is looking at a few strategic investments overseas that are both profitable and support Qatar's food security program.

Mohamed bin Badr Al-Sadah
BIOGRAPHY
Mohamed bin Badr Al-Sadah joined Hassad Food as CEO in 2017. He holds an engineering degree from the University of Arizona. He has wide experience in different fields, acquired from working across sectors such as oil and gas, investments, and telecom. Previously, Al-Sadah led several central functions in the capacity of COO and chief business development at Vodafone Qatar. Additionally, he held other senior posts in Qatar Investment Authority. He started his career as an engineer for one of Qatar’s top gas companies, during which he spent two years in Japan.

After the onset of the blockade, what steps did you take to increase the production of the local agribusiness sector?

After the blockade, Hassad's internal focus increased with the aim of supporting the private sector by filling any gaps in order to satisfy local market needs. In addition to Hassad's significant role in supplying the local market with the necessary products during the first few months of the blockade, the company also increased local production in key sectors, including fodder, poultry, and vegetables. In the fodder sector, we conducted in-depth research on local market needs, and then developed a comprehensive plan that covers both local and foreign strategic expansion to satisfy those needs, as well as secure external sources to be utilized by the country if needed. Additionally, we have successfully completed Phase I of Alfa Alfa local production on 1.5 million-sqm of land in Irkkiyah farm owned by Aalaf Qatar, one of the subsidiaries of Hassad. The total cultivated area of green fodder reached 8 million sqm locally, and we are currently executing Phase 2 of our expansion plans on Aalaf Qatar farms. We increased local poultry production to 16 million chickens and 120 million table eggs per year. We currently cover around 90% of local market needs from fresh chickens and achieved advanced stages in table-egg self-sufficiency. In terms of vegetable production, we recently launched Mahaseel, a marketing and agri-services company, to support the private agricultural sector to contribute to self-sufficiency, encourage local farmers to increase the quantity and enhance the quality of local produce, ease the burden on local farmers to increase their production, and purchase farmers' production and sell it to the local market.

Australia and Oman are two strategic partners of Qatar in supplying food items. How is Hassad investing in other countries to increase production?

We are looking to expand our international footprint. We currently have investments in nine countries including Oman, Australia, and Sudan and are looking at southern Europe, North and South America, as well as Africa in terms of investments, know-how, and trading. We recently signed an MoU with the Republic of Rwanda to look into opportunities for projects there. In Australia, we conducted strategic repositioning of our investments there; Hassad Australia's portfolio was merged with Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets' agricultural portfolio. In Oman, Hassad is investing 20% in downstream seafood with the Global Seafood Company. With this new investment, the company's total investments in Oman will reach approximately QAR500 million (USD137 million). Hassad has another major investment in Oman in the poultry sector, A'Saffa Foods, which is currently undergoing expansion plans. The company will produce around 44 million birds in 2019.

How would you assess the role of the transport and logistics players in securing food supply for the country?

Hassad played a major role during the blockade, as the company managed to develop a new route—land and sea—from Turkey and Azerbaijan through Iran to Qatar, and the private sector is utilizing this route to this day. The Ministry of Transport and Communications also did a great deal of work to open new direct sea routes to countries such as Pakistan and Iran. Now, with Hamad Port, we have all the facilities in place for shipping.

How close is Qatar to being self-sufficient in its food supply?

Food security involves supplies that we can produce and those we can store. In terms of storage, we are doing great work with the silos being built, as well as the expansion of other storage facilities in the country. Once those projects are completed, the situation will improve further. In terms of local production, in the dairy sector, for example, we have reached high levels of self-sufficiency. Moving forward, we need to do more work in the fresh vegetables segment.