Qatar's news outlets recently reported that local agricultural production has jumped by 400% since the boycott imposed in 2017.
And within a few years, 40% to 50% of fresh products could be produced locally, Faleh bin Nasser Al Thani, assistant undersecretary for agriculture and fisheries at the Ministry of Municipality and Environment, told Al-Monitor.
The Gulf state faces major obstacles. For example, it was recently ranked as the most water-stressed country in the world. It is also one of the few countries with no permanent rivers as rainfall is extremely unpredictable and highly erratic.
Thus, Qatar’s fast-growing agriculture has been looking deep underground for its water.
Each year, 92% of the 250 million cubic meters (75,000 acre-feet) of groundwater withdrawn from the country's aquifers is given free of charge to farmers. The usage of this water could be far more efficient and effective.
Governmental water statistics show that Qatar withdraws nearly four times as much water from its aquifers than is replenished by rainfall each year. Artificial recharges and irrigation return flows reduce this loss but also may be polluting the aquifers, in part because of chemical fertilizers used by farmers.
Alain Gachet, a top world expert on aquifers, said that "This approach may satisfy politicians in the short term, but affects the population in the long term."