Qatar climate makes farming difficult with extreme heat, little freshwater and a high salt content in the desert soil.In 2012 the family-owned company Agrico started raising organic vegetables and greenhouses and recently began growing mushrooms.On this 10,000 square meter farm Agrico come post is generating a ton of mushrooms each day.
“The soil is composed of hay, agricultural gypsum and bird manure or that mixed together fermented and pasteurized.It is then ready to be used in the room. Soil preparation takes four weeks and then we need another four weeks for mushrooms to grow.”
The mushrooms are grown in temperature controlled rooms at 18 degrees Celsius.
“The cooling cost is an obstacle in some countries.In Gulf countries we have an advantage because energy is relatively cheap,however, farms in Gulf countries have additional costs due to importing most of the material they need.”
Agricole plans to increase its mushroom production to between three and four times.
“We have a market share of about 30 percent of the local mushroom market.We usually export 20 percent of our production to neighboring countries like Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.”
Qatar hopes to feed itself by converting semi-desert areas into agricultural land.
Deborahblock VOA news Washington