11/30/2017, 10.50
QATAR-GULF
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Doha imports thousands of cows against Saudi blockade

The goal is to achieve independence in milk production by July 2018. To do so, 14,000 livestock were purchased from Germany and the United States. They will be greeted on a farm 80 km north of the capital, as large as 70 soccer fields at a total cost of 700 million euros.

Doha (AsiaNews) - To circumvent the blockade imposed by Saudi Arabia and other Gulf nations, Qatar intends to import thousands of cows and reach "self-sufficiency" in milk production for the domestic market by July 2018.  John Dore, director of the Irish farm Baladna Livestock Production, announced his firm will handle the transport of at least 14,000 cattle from Germany and the United States.

The transport of cows will start in the coming weeks to end by next summer, using air transport to speed up delivery times and lessen the discomfort for livestock.

"We should be self-sufficient by June, next July" next year, Dore confirmed, adding the purpose of this operation is to "take part in Qatar's effort" at a  "national" scale to stem the effects of the Saudi bloc. And at the same time, it sends this message to Riyadh: "We do not need you, we can do it alone."

Overall, the total cost for cattle import and the construction of a special section for milk collection on an existing farm 80 km north of the capital, Doha, should be around 700 million euros. The structure, once completed, will have a total size of 70 football pitches.

Over the past few weeks about 3400 cattle have already arrived in Qatar. The remaining quota is expected to be delivered in February, with the final goal - Dore concludes - "to produce about 400 tons of milk every day" and to focus on self-sufficiency goals.

For months Qatar has been at the center of a serious political, diplomatic and economic crisis that pits it against the other Gulf countries, led by Riyadh. According to some, the clash between Qatar and Saudi Arabia originates from the ties between Doha and Tehran, the number one enemy of the Saudis in the region, and the supposed support for terrorist groups. In fact behind the controversy - which also involved the Qatar Al Jazeera satellite channel, which Riyadh wants shut down  - there would be a counterattack within Sunni Islam and, in particular, between Doha and Abu Dhabi.

In the past, Qatar was largely dependent on imports from neighboring Saudi Arabia with regard to food stocks, including milk and other dairy products. Hence, the need for a small emirate of 2.7 million people to find alternative sources for food supply [Turkey, Iran and Morocco], coupled with the choice to strengthen domestic production.

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