An ambitious study aimed at increasing tomato production in Qatar is currently in progress. The project, named “Environment & Hydroponic Strategies to Enhance Tomato Stress Tolerance, Productivity, and Quality in Qatar,” is being jointly carried out by Texas A&M AgriLife Research, Texas A&M University at Qatar, Agrico, a Qatar Foundation partner university, and is supported by the Qatar National Research Fund. The research is taking place at Agrico farms near Al Khor. The team is evaluating various genotypes of tomatoes worldwide to determine which ones are best suited for the harsh environmental conditions in Qatar. Additionally, they investigate the effects of grafting, plant density, pest control, and bumblebee-assisted pollination on tomato growth.
Dr. Daniel Leskovar leads the project team. He is a professor in the Department of Horticultural Sciences and Center Director at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Uvalde. He joins Dr. Bing Guo, a mechanical engineering associate professor at Texas A&M University Qatar, and Dr. Prosanta Dash, a postdoctoral research associate at Texas A&M at Qatar, serving as a co-principal investigator. Together, they are committed to developing efficient, safe, and resilient food systems to enhance Qatar’s food security.
According to Dr. Leskovar, the hydroponic tomato project is a collaboration between academic and industry professionals. They merge plant science expertise with grower experience and innovative crop management techniques, all within the top-notch facilities and constant support provided by Agrico. He also highlighted the importance of the additional results obtained from complementary research in tomato grafting psychiatry at Texas A&M AgriLife Research, which results will test in the project in Qatar. The ultimate goal is to create sustainable food systems that contribute to food security.
Dr. Guo, a researcher from Texas A&M University at Qatar, emphasized their commitment to addressing real-world challenges the country faces, particularly the urgent demand to make farming more efficient in Qatar. He shared that the preliminary results of their experiments showed a notable increase in tomato yield compared to current practices, which is a strong indication that they will achieve their target of improving production efficiency by 25%. He expressed gratitude to Agrico for providing the necessary resources for the research.
Nasser Al Khalaf, Managing Director at Agrico, affirmed their dedication to supporting Qatar’s food security objectives through this collaboration with Texas A&M University and Texas A&M AgriLife Research. He stated that they are exploring new methods to boost product yield at their farms, and research and development in agriculture are crucial to advancing agricultural practices globally. He looks forward to working with the Texas A&M researchers to achieve the best results for the country.
The research team is optimistic that this project’s results will help significantly enhance tomato yield in Qatar and improve the country’s food security. The partnership between Texas A&M, Qatar Foundation, and Agrico will combine the expertise of plant scientists and growers to develop efficient, safe, and resilient food systems for Qatar.
Image provided by Texas A&M University at Qatar