The CEO of Hassad Food Company Eng. Mohammed Al Sadah has said that the company has developed a rapid intervention plan in line with its strategy in parallel with the launch of the military operation between Russia and Ukraine to achieve food security for Qatar.
In an interview with Qatar News Agency (QNA), Al Sadah explained that Hassad Food Company can supply all types of grains, oilseeds, and wheat from several sources, including North America, South America, Turkey, Australia, and the Black Sea region.
Al Sadah drew attention to the role played by Hassad Company in securing food security for the state at times of crises. Food security is the main role of the company as it is the state’s investment arm in the food and agricultural sector, he said.
He added that Hassad has successful models in providing all the local market needs of basic foodstuffs during crises such as the blockade in 2017 and the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, when part of the country’s food supply was affected. Hassad, in coordination with the authorities concerned, quickly intervened to ensure the continued supply of all products needed by the local market from several countries.
In response to a question about the strategic plans that have been put in place to cover any possible shortage of grain, wheat and oilseeds in the local market and to start implementing them in light of the shortage that could occur in global markets due to the war in Ukraine, he said Hassad monitors the reserves of basic commodities such as wheat on an ongoing basis. Whenever there is any dip in the stock of any of the commodities, the company provides the required quantities of basic commodities immediately through the its investments and its international relations.
About the period covered by the current stock of grains, wheat and oilseeds to meet the needs of the local market, Al Sadah stated that there is an effort to maintain a sufficient stock of basic commodities for at least 6 months, at all times.
Regarding the local strategic grain stores in Al Wukair, he said Hassad has developed strategic grain stores in coordination with the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, with the aim of supporting the state’s efforts to achieve self-sufficiency. There are currently 20 ground stores, divided between warehouses for wheat and others for barley.
He added that the current total capacity reaches 250,000 tonnes, and Hassad is also working on expanding the warehouses, as the total capacity will exceed 300,000 tonnes of grain upon completion of the expansion.
He pointed out that in 2021, Hassad produced more than 3.6 million bags of barley, in addition to supplying nearly 50,000 tonnes of barley to approved distributors for distribution to livestock breeders.
Regarding the prices of the products that will be supplied to the local market, the Hassad CEO explained that, in general, food prices during the past two years witnessed a continuous rise, even before the conflict in the Black Sea region, where the price index of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) reached to its new peak.
Al Sadah said that the price hike is due to a combination of challenges such as supply constraints and supply chain challenges as well as global events such as the disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
In this context, Hassad, in coordination with its partners, will ensure that the supply and shipping operations are managed in a highly efficient manner, which contributes to a relatively low cost of the required goods.
In his answer to a question about the conflicting roles between Hassad and the rest of the companies, whether in the public or private sectors working in the food and agricultural fields, he stressed that there is no conflict in the roles between Hassad and institutions in the public and private sectors, on the contrary, there is a strategic integration between the state’s institutions, such as at the time of the blockade on Qatar.
Al Sadah highlighted the company’s possession of many global investments in the food and agricultural fields, which are of a strategic and commercial nature, and which aim directly to achieve food security for Qatar.
“Internationally, Hassad has invested in international institutions and companies operating in the grain, meat, poultry, livestock and fish sectors, in a number of countries such as Australia, Canada, Turkey, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and Sudan,” he said.
When referring to the company’s local investments, he indicated that the company owns a number of subsidiaries, such as Aswaq company for managing food establishments, and Mahaseel for Marketing and Agricultural Services, Arab Qatari Agricultural Production Company (QTFA), the Arab Qatari for Poultry Production (Al-Waha), Aalaf Qatar Company, the Strategic Grain Stores, and the National Food CO. (NAFCO), in addition to Hassad’s investment in Baladna and Widam Food companies.
On the sectors that the company targets, Al Sadah revealed that Hassad has a number of principles to engage in any new investment, such as investing in commercial and strategic institutions to support the country’s food security, achieving a balance in investments between the commercial and strategic aspects, pointing to investment in sectors that show positive and sustainable growth indicators soon, as well as entering into investments with a positive financial return and the ability to independently manage its operation, in addition to acquiring stakes in international and local strategic investments.
As for the targeted sectors, several strategic investment sectors have been identified to support the state’s efforts in achieving food security, which are seeds and grains, meat, dairy, fish, innovative agricultural technologies, safety and food quality tests, fresh products, in addition to supply and logistics, according to Hassad’s investment strategy.
About the reasons for reorganising the company’s investments in Australia, he said that Hassad made huge expansions in its agricultural investments in 2018, to form a larger and more diversified investment portfolio in Australia. So, Hassad reorganised its strategy for its agricultural investments in Australia, where the investments of Hassad Company moved to Paraway Pastoral Company Limited (Paraway), which is one of the largest owners of agricultural and food properties in Australia, which currently manages more than 4.4 million hectares, comprising 27 pastoral institutions spread over a number of regions of different nature and climatic conditions, he added.
In a related context, he explained that the company’s investment portfolio is divided into the agricultural sector by 21 percent, the poultry sector by 23 percent, the meat sector by 21 percent, the supply and logistics sector 12 percent , the grain sector 14 percent, the dairy sector 7 percent, and the fish sector 2 percent.
In his evaluation of the initiatives launched by Hassad to support Qatari farmers, Al Sadah pointed out that in 2018, Hassad established the Mahaseel for Marketing and Agricultural Services as one of its subsidiaries, after studying the need of the local market and determining the required support mechanism for the agricultural private sector, with the aim of lifting the burden of the marketing process from the shoulders of farmers, by marketing their production of vegetables in the local market and providing a number of agricultural services to them to motivate them to increase the volume of production and raise its quality.
Mahaseel currently provides agricultural services to about 400 local farms, including marketing 30 types of vegetables through more than 100 outlets in the country. In 2021, it succeeded in marketing nearly 19 million kilograms of local vegetables in the Qatari market.
About filling the shortfall in the production of vegetables in the summer, he referred to the investment of a local harvest through the Arab Qatari Agricultural Production Company (QTFA), which owns a farm to produce vegetables, extending over an area of 200 hectares in the Al Sheehaniya area, adding that QTFA currently produces about 7,000 tonnes (28 varieties) of vegetables, and markets them locally.
He also pointed out that when temperatures rise in the summer period, QTFA uses different agricultural methods, including refrigerated and non-refrigerated greenhouses, as well as high-tech greenhouses, and in 2021, it activated modern irrigation systems, increased the areas of agricultural land covered instead of open fields, in addition to developing a number of farms (farming without soil) equipped with the latest irrigation technologies.