By Anwar ElshamyStaff Reporter The $1bn Hassad Food firm, owned by Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund, has entered into final stages of negotiations with major agricultural companies around the world to ensure food security for all, according to its chairman. “Hassad will give top priority to Qatar’s food needs in the hour of need, but this will be based on market prices as the company’s strategy is to ensure food security for all without compromising on profits,” chairman Nasser Mohamed al-Hajri told a press conference yesterday. He said Hassad had allocated $500mn to buy stakes in agricultural firms in different parts of the world. “We are in advanced levels in talks with agricultural companies and are exploring investment opportunities in Asia, Africa, Latin America and Europe,” he said. “Our strategy is to secure food for all whether inside or outside Qatar.”
Al-Hajri revealed that Hassad was conducting studies to find out Qatar’s food needs. The country now imported 95% of its food needs, he felt.
“There is a wide food gap in Qatar. We want to know how much food Qatar is producing and importing. We are in contact with the Central Municipal Council to see what can be done in this regard.”
He, however, ruled out that Hassad would intervene to influence food prices in the local market, saying that his company did not seek to replace local suppliers in Qatar or enter into a competition with them.
“We have nothing to do with the food prices in the Qatari market. This can be dealt with by the government departments concerned and according to the laws of supply and demand,” he said.
About the company’s investment plans, al-Hajri stressed that Hassad was mainly interested in buying stakes in agricultural companies rather than buying farmlands.“We are looking for opportunities where we can work with partners owning or running farmlands and having expansion plans. We do not want to take away the land of the poor,” he added, while observing that his company did not like the idea of full acquisition of companies.