Improving agricultural production in Qatar faces a number of challenges mainly related to adverse climatic conditions, quality of soils, scarcity of irrigation water, inappropriate crop rotations, market constraints and ineffective agricultural subsidies. Strategies to overcome these problems may include a) increasing domestic production in Qatar by using a combination of high-tech water-efficient field and greenhouse production systems focussed on high quality end-products to fill gaps in the supply market, and b) land purchase and contract farming of broad-acre crops in more resource-rich countries such as Australia. Qatar produces only about 8-10 percent of food consumed, yet domestic production is significantly constrained by lack of market access. In this paper, a holistic framework is developed for assessing climate, soil and market constraints, and for generating an optimized list of food crops that could be grown under output price uncertainty and severely limiting arable land and water conditions in Qatar. Components of the framework include assessing the yield potential of selected crops through simulation modelling using historical climate and soils data. In a case study using wheat as a selected crop, potential yields were simulated using soils and long-term climate data for five Australian locations. These locations are Dalby in Queensland; Trangie and Junee in New South Wales; Esperance and Jerramungup in Western Australia. An assessment has been made of the site/soil constraints to identify yield limiting factors. In addition, the module will be adapted to identify suitable locations for producing vegetable crops in Qatar. Soil and climate data from five locations in Qatar (Al Sulaiteen Agricultural and Industrial Complex site, Qatar University Farm site, Arab-Qatari Farm site, Outoriya, and Rodhat Al Faras) are being collected for this purpose. The framework will be informed by a large amount of historical data in Qatar, including crop types and yield, land and water use coefficients, food import and export data, food prices, and food preferences. Output obtained from the framework will allow Qatari investment operations in Australia and other countries to determine the best locations for wheat production. At the same time we will generate a prioritized list of profitable vegetables that can be grown in Qatar in order to improve the food security situation. The findings of this paper will contribute towards achieving the goals of our research project "Improving Food Security in Qatar: Assessing Alternative Cropping Systems Feasibility and Productivity in Variable Climates, Soil and Marketing Environments" (NPRP6-064-4-001) funded by Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF) through its National Research Priority Program.


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