Hassad Food, the agriculture investment arm of Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), recently held an open day for its subsidiary Zulal Oasis, a hydroponic greenhouse technology company, for local farmers, investors and agriculture specialists.
Established in 2013 through a joint venture with Primaflor Group, a major leaf vegetable producer from Spain, Zulal Oasis has developed a greenhouse technology called New Growing Systems (NGS), which Hassad Food argues is the most advanced hydroponic system in the world.
Together with a a smart climate control system called Dry Air Cooling System (DACS) — to main the correct temperature inside regardless of geographical location — Zulal Oasis’s technology has been created to enable agricultural production in some of the toughest climates globally.
After a period of pilot programs and testing, the company announced that its technology had “achieved great success”, and “proved to be perfectly suited for Qatar’s climate; it also exceeded expectations regarding the yield and quality, producing more than 37 kilograms per square meters of highest quality European Standard” tomatoes, according to a press release on Hassad’s website.
Zulal Oasis now intends to sell the technology to growers and investors for use in Qatar and elsewhere in the GCC region, where temperatures are high and water is scarce.
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As with most hydroponic systems, NGS does not use soil or other substrate materials for agriculture. It also promotes natural self-purification, maximum development of roots, 100 percent recirculating nutrient solution and uniformity in its products, according to Hassad’s website. This is a first for the region, according to Hamad Al Hajri, board director of Zulal Oasis.
“Hydroponics have been introduced to Qatar more than 10 years ago but the NGS have not been used before the establishment of Zulal-Oasis,” he told AgFunderNews. “In addition to that, Zulal Oasis has developed, for the first time in Qatar and the region, a whole greenhouse system (NGS hydroponic, dry cooling system and irrigation recycling system), which is designed to overcome obstacles restricting the agricultural production in Qatar.”
This is Hassad Food’s only agtech investment, but the company is well known for its Australian subsidiary, Hassad Australia, which has bought a large amount of agricultural land in Australia as part of a strategy to invest in global agriculture markets to an effort to secure food resources for the state of Qatar.
Hassad Australia owns and operates 300,000 hectares of Australian farmland, which supports 250,000 sheep and produces 130,000 tons of grains on yearly basis.
Andrew Robb, Minister of Trade and Investment, met with the chairman of Hassad Food, Nasser Al Hajri during a state visit to Qatar’s capital of Doha in April. Al Hajri has also met with Bulgarian and Hungarian ministers this year and launched an investment plan in Turkey in September 2014.
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