Qatar aims to invest billions of dollars in an agricultural city to house food growers and processers, in an effort to increase its food supply security and combat rising food prices, a government official said.
"It is in the early stages, but it would be a large investment, in the billions of dollars," Mohamed Ahmed al Obaidly, head of the agricultural and environment committee at the Qatar Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said on the sidelines of a conference in Doha.
"We want to have the full chain, from production to end use. We're aiming for a complete city which will include research and development, food processing, distilleries and growers, as well as utilities and universities," he said.
Arid Gulf nations, largely dependent on food imports, have reacted to skyrocketing food prices by buying farmland in developing nations to improve their security of supplies.
Qatar currently has $6bn invested in food security outside the country, Obaidly said.
Obaidly said combating food price inflation was one of the motivations behind the plan for the city. Rising food and transport costs pushed annual inflation in Qatar to a four-month high of 1.8 percent in June."Now everywhere, food prices are increasing. We are trying to take preventative steps to guard against this," he said.
The project would focus on fruit and vegetable growers, as well as livestock and fisheries, because the country's small size prevents the large-scale growing of grains, he said.
While the city's size is still under discussion, it would likely be located south of the capital Doha, close to the country's planned new airport and seaport.