Strengthening ties with Qatar to grow in the Middle East

At iFarm, we will remember June 2021 as the month of Qatar! We announced an agreement to build a vertical farm based on our technology in Doha, hosted two high-profile delegations from Qatar at a lettuce farm, and held a series of important discussions regarding cooperation in the country.
Background information on the Middle East region
The Arabian Peninsula has an extremely hot and arid climate (it’s one of the hottest places on the planet), and Qatar is no exception. There are sands and dunes in the north, sandy hills in the south — with a rocky desert in the middle. In the summer months, temperatures can reach 50 °C. The country has no rivers and obtains most of its freshwater by desalinating seawater. As a result, Qatar has extremely unfavourable conditions for growing edible plants such as vegetables, berries, and herbs. However, where tomato plants wither, date palms thrive. The “Queen of the Oasis” has been bearing excellent fruit throughout the entire Middle East region for thousands of years. It’s just, you can’t live on dates alone.
99,1 %
Qatar’s urbanisation rate
(one of the highest in the world)
90 %
of food in Qatar is imported
Although Qatar ranks among the richest countries in the world in terms of per capita income, it relies heavily on imports to feed its population. Local agriculture only covers 10% of the country’s needs, and food security remains high on Qatar’s agenda. With its abundant financial resources, the country can use state-of-the-art technology to grow crops. Due to this, we believe local, year-round cultivation of vegetables, berries, and herbs on vertical farms is one of the best solutions for this region.
“By working with iFarm, Qatar increases its share of locally grown products, and we can showcase how our technology can be used in a region with extreme climatic conditions. The use of translucent greenhouses can be a problem given the hot climate: they need to be shaded and cooled. Vertical farming, on the other hand, is a perfect match. This is an excellent tool that can help Qatar achieve its ambitious food security goals.”

Alex Lyskovsky
president of iFarm
As you may recall, Qatar has adopted a National Food Security Strategy under which the country aims to reach 70% self-sufficiency in food production by 2023.
Cooperation with Agrico
Our first talks about building vertical farms powered by iFarm technology in Qatar go back to 2019. The Qataris are very cautious in choosing partners, but once they get involved, you can be sure it’s going to be serious and long-lasting. We recently announced a joint project with Sadarah that includes building a commercial pilot farm based on the Agrico Farm in Al Khor, 50 km from Doha. iFarm supplies hardware and software, and will oversee the farm once it goes live and help the partners manage the technology. The second phase of this joint effort involves the commercial distribution of products to the local market and the extension of vertical cultivation technology to other farms in Qatar and neighboring countries. Contractors are currently erecting a purpose-built environment specifically for this vertical “plant factory” project.
Cooperation with Lulu Group International
LuLu Group International is iFarm’s signature partner in the Middle East. It is a multinational corporation that operates one of the largest retail chains in Asia and the Persian Gulf. LuLu is among the fastest-growing chains in the world and employs more than 57,000 people around the world. We are in talks with LuLu Group’s representative office in Qatar regarding building vertical farms right in the supermarkets. At least one side of the pilot farm is designed using transparent material, so that customers can see the process of growing and harvesting plants from “smart” beds. In early June 2021, the project was discussed at the International Economic Forum in St. Petersburg. It is of great importance to us because it can be scaled up throughout the entire chain, covering more than 200 stores in 22 countries.
Qatari delegations visit farms powered by iFarm technology
Indoor cultivation in a fully controlled environment still attracts a lot of attention and investment due to its obvious benefits, including land and water conservation, reduction of CO2 emissions, absence of pesticides, etc. Vertical farming is a sustainable method of farming, and although it won’t replace conventional farming everywhere, in many regions it is, perhaps, the only way to harvest high-quality fresh vegetables, berries, and herbs locally throughout the whole year.
Two delegations from Qatar visited a farm powered by iFarm technology in June. The head of the country’s investment promotion agency (IPA Qatar), Sheikh Ali Al-Walid Al-Thani, was one of our guests. The agency aims to attract direct investment in Qatar and assists entrepreneurs throughout the entire investment process providing services on a ‘one-stop shop’ basis.
We also had the pleasure of welcoming Masoud Jarallah al-Marri, Director of the Food Security Department at the Ministry of Municipality and Environment. He is responsible for the national certification of agricultural products and takes special care to verify the performance of any technology that is going to be introduced in Qatar.
Both guests inspected all of the production areas at the vertical farm, saw how the engineering equipment and software work, tasted a range of products grown on the farm, and left satisfied!
“Qatar is developing rapidly, and I am amazed at the pace of change in this country, which is literally turning into a huge beautiful oasis in the middle of the desert. Doha, for example, has a state-of-the-art, fully automated subway running under the city’s skyscrapers. Qatar has welcomed many foreign investors and businesses in recent years, thanks to its national vision, efforts to diversify the economy and the country’s role as hosts of the FIFA World Cup in 2022. We are happy that iFarm technology will provide guests and locals with delicious greens, vegetables and berries, and will enhance the country’s food security in the long term.”
Alex Lyskovsky, president of iFarm
13.07.2021
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