In an effort to improve their food security, the Gulf countries have made significant investments regarding, inter alia, the acquisition of large tracts of fertile land in various areas: Africa (Ethiopia, Sudan and Mozambique ...) Europe (Ukraine, Romania, Bosnia ...), Oceania (New Zealand, Australia) and Latin America (Argentina, Brazil).
Qatar produces less than 10% of its food needs, being therefore completely reliant on imports, whose annual value amounted to USD 1,300 M, which makes agriculture to be a strategic sector for the Government. This is clearly described in the strategy designed by the Government for the future development of the country, contained in the so-called "Qatar National Vision 2030". As for its formulation, the Qatar National Food Security Programme was launched in 2008, which aims to achieve food self-sufficiency by 2023 establishing the implementation of agro-industrial production facilities, with hydroponic systems, as one of the determining factors for the development of this objective, which is the framework underpinning the ZULAL OASIS Project.
The OASIS Project is an Entrepreneurship of Spanish leaders companies engaged to strategy consulting, design and construction of agro-industrial facilities in the GCC. Oasis was established to be the leader of the Agriculture Auxiliary Industry to provide support and the necessary training to farmers in the area.
On the occasion of the official visit to Spain in April 2011 of His Highness Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, Emir of the State of Qatar, on 26th the same month in Madrid a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was formalized between the state agency Hassad Food and Oasis Agrotechnology S.L. - a consortium created by a group of leading Spanish companies, with an large experience accumulated during 50 years in the Agribusiness and Environmental sector - to cover the objectives of food security and self-sufficiency which are driven by governments all over the world.
The MOU was initialled in a subsequent agreement on 10th September 2012 resulting in a new company, Zulal Oasis L.L.C. whose core objectives were:
• Implementing in Qatar an agricultural model that allows the optimal use of resources, mainly the scarcest which is the water.
• Providing farmers sustainable financial returns, cost competiveness compared with imported products, increasing the number of annual cycles, shortening production times and improving product quality and homogeneity.
• Developing a system allowing for better distribution and marketing of local products.
Within this context a Pilot Project was launched based in the technology specifically designed for this country to overcome the environmental conditions in Qatar. The aim was to demonstrate the expertise of OASIS to produce under this climatic conditions and thereby to show to local agricultures the possibilities that their country has to produce vegetables. Given the OASIS’s experience all over the world, the goal here was to produce during the summer, as do it the rest of the season is something that OASIS assumed and controlled perfectly.
And all the above under the premises of sustainability and saving water an energy.
The ZULAL OASIS design for the country is based in a comprehensive concept using cutting-edge technology:
• A new-generation greenhouse specifically conceived for Qatar regarding the enclosure, climate and growing supports.
• Automated smart climate control system capable of deciding when to use natural ventilation or dry air, specifically adapted to the specific temperature and humidity of Qatar. And without consumption of water.
• Crop system NGS, the most advanced hydroponic system in the world is worldwide patented, substrate less and 100% recirculating nutrient solution, thus it is unique in the world in saving water and fertilizers.
The results of the project exceeded expectations and the technology has proved as the only one suited for Qatar’s climate, achieving the highest yield and quality.
In addition to the highest efficiency in water use by recycling 100% of irrigation water, as shown in the results of the pilot project regarding water productivity:
This unique technology has proven to be the only one capable of producing sustainably for 12 months a year with the higher quality regardless of the season.
The Food Security strategy of the country goes for more locally produced fresh food, but this is totally detrimental to the protection of the very low water reserve of the country and the environmental balance.
The technological model of ZULAL OASIS is unique in the world, the only one specifically designed for the climatic conditions in this country and the only one that meets the main challenges for the success of agriculture in Qatar, especially to produce more food with less water: 44.09 kg of tomatoes with only 1 m3 of water.