Farming in a desert climate can be hugely challenging, but Qatar has been aiming to revolutionize solutions to growing crops in its dry environment.

Innovative farming solutions
For seven decades, AGRICO has been supplying produce to more than one thousand outlets. As chairperson Ahmed Al Khalaf says, the farming company has addressed climate challenges by learning from experts worldwide while demonstrating local solutions to teach emerging farmers. "We have a difficult environment to grow fruit and vegetables; therefore, to produce all year round, we concentrate on developing smart farming," said Ahmed Al Khalaf, Chairman, AGRICO

Al Khalaf encourages businesses in the region to shift their focus to food security and sustainability, which he says is the key to self-sufficiency. AGRICO's seasonal greenhouses are used for different crops all year round using cutting-edge agricultural technology. One of their most innovative approaches is aquaponics, a combination of aquaculture and hydroponics where bacteria help change excretions from fish tanks to fertilize the plants that then absorb extra nitrogen, putting purified water back into the tanks. For the very first time, AGRICO has also taken aquaponics and vertical farming with LED lighting to a grocery store in Qatar. The farm's general manager, Dr. Fahad Saleh Ibrahim, explains: "Carrefour is a good point to educate the public about this way of farming. The plants are extremely healthy, we use less water and get more produce, harvesting only what we need." The technology is capable of growing various plants, including herbs but also fruit like melons and tomatoes.

From farm to table
Organic produce is gaining popularity in Qatar, and Torba Store is a haven for the health-conscious. It is also part of Torba Farms' overall ethos of farm-to-table produce that includes two farmers' markets. Founder, Fatma Al Khater, brought the concept to life for the benefits of sustainable living, "We're big fans of permaculture and the microbiome, so we've got fermented food ranging from kombucha to sauerkraut, and they really do help in fulfilling that holistic lifestyle that we try and educate people about." Torba also seized the opportunity to connect people with food, which is what their Farmers' Market aims to do, along with uplifting small businesses.