In Qatar, the summers are long and hot. From April through October, the average high hovers between 90 and 104 degrees Fahrenheit, and there’s hardly ever a drop of rain.
To meet the needs of a rapidly growing population, the oil-rich country must rely on imports for about 90% of its food. But there’s a radical idea that’s growing — against all odds — in the middle of Qatar’s vast Arabian Desert.
It’s called the Sahara Forest Project (SFP for short).
SFP was created to find a way not just to grow food in the desert, but to do so sustainably — to make the environment better, not worse. As the organisers explain in a fact sheet, it’s “designed to utilise what we have enough of to produce what we need more of, using deserts, saltwater, and CO2 to produce food, water, and energy.”
As the planet gets hotter and more crowded, this initiative in Qatar becomes relevant to us all. If we can learn how to sustainably grow food in such inhospitable conditions, the world’s agricultural future might not be as bleak as it seems.
How does it all fit together? This graphic helps explain how ordinary saltwater powers so many other processes.
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