Qatar professor urges others to take up farming

Some 75km north of Doha lies the sprawling 360-acre Jerry Smieh Farm and leading it from the front is a former president of Qatar University (QU). Prof Sheikha Abdulla al-Misnad, QU’s fifth president and the only woman president so far, is actively engaged in the activities of the farm and feels that it is one of the best ways to contribute to Qatar’s growth.

“Farming, I believe, offers a lot of potential to help the country become self-sufficient in several areas, and I enjoy visiting the farm and taking part in the activities over there. I encourage others, especially youngsters, to take up such initiatives that help the country progress in a big way,” Prof al-Misnad told Gulf Times.

She said Jerry Smieh is one of the oldest family farms in the country and was established in the '50s. “In recent years, there has been more investment to develop the farm to make it a commercial farm, supplying the local market with the best quality vegetables, poultry, and other products,” she explained.

The farm offers a wide variety of fresh local fruits and vegetables, poultry, and livestock. Apart from the traditional agricultural and animal products, such as free-range chicken and Sidr honey, the farm offers an unusual product for the region - French ducks. Recently, the farm has also started fish farming with several hatcheries being used at present for tilapia farming.

The major vegetables produced in the farm are tomato, eggplant, chilies and capsicum. In addition, the farm also grows camel feed. The farm has different varieties of country chicken as well as a large number of French ducks. There are two varieties of ducks, one used for eggs and the other meant for meat. In addition, it has a good number of sheep as well as honeybees, providing the best meat and honey, respectively.

“The government's strategy has been very successful and locally grown vegetables are now available on supermarket shelves. Now, people have started to value the quality of these products and prefer them to the imported ones. So, it is the right time for those who want to venture into it,” concluded Prof al-Misnad.

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