Dar Al Rayyan for Investment has beaten off competition from 33 other companies to be awarded QAR1.3 billion (around US$357 million) by the Qatari Ministry of Economy and Commerce to set up the first private poultry company. According to the newspaper, The Peninsula, the ministry made the award to promote self-sufficiency in poultry as part of a larger strategy to increase food security, which began in April 2015.
With a production capacity of 40,000 metric tons of poultry meat and 7,500 metric tons of eggs per year, the new company aims to lift the level of self-sufficiency from the current 7 percent to 46 percent for chicken meat, and the present 16 percent in eggs to 42 percent.
A statement from the ministry explained that this is a major investment project and the first involving the private sector in the country’s food security program.
A similar project has been launched for dairy products, aiming to reduce milk imports by 20,000 metric tons per year.
According to Zahra Babar in the current journal of the United States-based think tank, the World Policy Institute, Qatar has limited options for domestic agriculture as the result of limitations in its water and arable land, and a harsh climate. As a result, the country imports some 92 percent of its food requirements. This poses an insignificant risk to the small and wealthy country but its leaders consider the position to be a strategic threat in event of any future crisis or global competition, wrote Babar. In the wake of escalating global food prices, a national plan for enhancing the country’s food security was set up in 2008 and the plan was completed 5 years later. Among the foods produced in limited amounts and targeted for increase were vegetables, dairy products, poultry and livestock. The focus in each case is to expand domestic production with care and within existing environmental resource constraints. Also on Qatar’s national agenda is to broaden its choice of trading partners for imported foods.
Earlier in 2015, Hassad Food, the agricultural arm of Qatar's sovereign wealth fund, said it was looking at possible purchases of Brazilian poultry assets.