(MENAFN- The Peninsula) By Satish Kanady / The Peninsula
DOHA: Qatar's soon-to be-opened Ras Matbakhh Aquatic and Fisheries Research Centre in Al Dhakira will give a fillip to the country's ongoing efforts to make it self-sufficient in seafood demand.
The $60m project is in the final stage of completion and is expected to open in the coming months, Mohammad Al Abdullah (pictured), Head of Aquatic Research Centre under the Ministry of Municipality and Environment, said.
Speaking on the sidelines of ‘French Agriculture Technology Conference', here yesterday, Al Abdullah said Qatar has embarked on a strategic mission to make the country self-sufficient in seafood sector. Currently, Qatar's total seafood production stands at an estimated 14,000- 16,000 tonnes per year. 'This is 6,000 tonnes less than the total demand of the country. We are working on to close this gap. With the support of advanced technologies, we are hopeful to meet this target very soon, Al Abdullah said.
The Research Centre is aiming to set up innovative aquaculture techniques by using latest fish and shrimp technology suitable for the local commercial fish species and to assist private sector in aquaculture field.
The objective of the research centre includes developing production protocols for fish hatching and growing of most interesting marine species including all the rearing cycles. The centre will also provide good quality fish fingerlings at low prices to encourage the private sector to establish fish farm project, he said.
The research centre has plans to launch long term programme to make sure that the biodiversity of the marine environment is protected. It will provide the coastal communities to develop alternative methods to meet the local fish demand through adopting aquaculture methods and thus preventing the overfishing from sea.
A delegation of 13 French companies attended the 'French Technologies in Agriculture Conference Event. The meet, held with the support of French Embassy in Qatar, also witnessed discussions with Qatari officials and other stakeholders in order to explore new ways of technology transfer, research and development.
French agribusiness experts are specialised in new concept of fruits and vegetable production, from greenhouses to urban farms, monitoring the proliferation of infectious diseases, organic-mineral fertilizers and alternatives to agricultural additives based on algae. The companies like PFI Nouvelles Vagues and Tarbouriech shared their experience in aquaculture and fisheries. Christelle Peyran, Head of Business France Qatar, stated: 'France has a lot to offer in the field of agriculture and sustainable development. After hosting the COP21 and the One Planet Summit, French ecosystem is focused on innovations to produce food while protecting the environment. We are the 3rd European producer of fruits and vegetables. We have developed new concepts of urban farmingor aquaponics. France is the first agricultural producer in Europe. France has over 19 million cattle, more than any other country and has 34 percent of all bovine livestock raised for meat in Europe. The fishing industry from boat to consumer is ranked 4th among sea fisheries in Europe, with 9 percent of community catches, continental France has 63 fishing ports, 38 fish markets, 12 producers' organisations and 608 wholesale and processing companies. France produces 9 million tonnes (mt) of fruit and vegetables and 5.3 mt of ware potatoes in a total area of 550,000 hectares.
'The government of Qatar launched several initiatives to support local production such as a proactive food safety programme 'Qatar National Food Security Programme (QNFSP), aiming to develop the agriculture market and ensure food-self efficiency by 2023. France is willing to cooperate with Qatar and share its know-how in agriculture field., Peyran added.
Business France is the national agency supporting the international development of the French economy, responsible for fostering export growth by French businesses, as well as promoting and facilitating international investment in France.
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