Agritech: An emerging catalyst to propel investment growth in Qatar
25 April 2022
Technology transformation continues to represent a major disruption to traditional businesses and industries around the globe. However, these disruptions have yielded opportunities that contribute to shaping a digitalised legacy across sectors and unfold promising growth potential. The agriculture sector is no exception. The integration of agriculture and technology, or “AgriTech”, is expanding the sector’s investment and business growth to new horizons.
In 2020, despite the unprecedented business slowdown, investment in the agrifood space soared to $22.3 billion over the year, with Q2 seeing $5.9 billion, or more than double the historical average quarterly investment of $2.7 billion, according to a report by Finistere Ventures and PitchBook Data. According to UK viability assessor Agri-Epi Centre, the sector in the Middle East will be worth approximately $170 billion by 2025.
Leveraging the potential of this sector, agritech is poised to drive a new wave of economic diversification in the GCC at large, and specifically in Qatar. In this context, the Investment Promotion Agency Qatar (IPA Qatar) sheds light on the opportunities offered by Qatar’s agritech sector.
Qatar breaks ground in agritech development
The ninth edition of AgriteQ 2022, recently held in Doha, gave a boost to plans for the agritech development in Qatar. Last year, the event saw the signing of 150 contracts and memoranda of understanding, forging new partnerships between governmental entities with local and international companies. It also provided a dynamic platform, through which key industry leaders, officials and experts reiterated the integral role of technology in addressing global food challenges, while creating new pathways for diversified business opportunities.
In Qatar, sustainable investments in infrastructure, food security policies and initiatives have been the keys to the country’s significant advancement in the food security field. Today, Qatar is ranked first in the Arab World in the Global Food Security Index (GFSI) 2021, issued by UK-based the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). Despite the harsh climatic and environmental conditions, Qatar has adopted new technologies and sustainable farming practices to bolster its agriculture sector, increase production, and strengthen its food security.
Innovation fuels investment into agriculture sector
With a multi-faceted approach integrating technology, innovation, and new businesses, Qatar continues to pave the path for new partnerships that unlock new opportunities. To name a few, the partnership between the Finnish agritech company “iFarm” and Sadarah, owner of Agrico Organic Farm, aims to advance the sustainable vertical farming in Qatar. The two businesses will jointly manage a commercial scale indoor farm, and introduce iFarm’s latest technology, which also enables the collection and reuse of unused water.
Having identified technology and agriculture sectors among the key drivers of the economic diversification, IPA Qatar has been extending its partnerships with promising innovative companies, such as Wadi Water. IPA Qatar supports the company to introduce its innovative agriculture technology in Qatar and the region. The company is specialised in producing water and reducing wastage, via turning air moisture into water that is safe for domestic and irrigation purposes.
Taking on challenges
Over the last few years, many regional and international challenges have pushed Qatar to bolster local agriculture and accelerate farm reforms, which include eyeing agritech and hydroponic farming. Qatar’s move to set up 1400 farms is a testament to the seriousness of the government to invest significantly in agricultural production.
With growing demand for food due to increasing global population and rising overall incomes, the challenge to agriculture can only be met by the advent of technology. Connectivity is one use of tech needed to stimulate production. According to research by McKinsey, if connectivity is implemented successfully in agriculture, the industry could tack on $500 billion in additional value to the global GDP by 2030. This would amount to a 7 to 9% improvement from its expected total and would alleviate much of the present pressure on farmers. Even smaller countries like Qatar have a role to play in adding to the global stockpile of farm produce, and so has the less developed world.