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Texas A&M agriculture experts visit Baladna, Qatar branch campus

خبراء الزراعة في «تكساس» يبحثون فرص التعاون مع «بلدنا»

Doha: Texas A&M University at Qatar recently hosted a delegation of agriculture experts from its main campus in Texas to visit Baladna Food Industries, Qatar’s largest producer of fresh dairy, as well as to explore opportunities for collaboration.

“Coming to a facility such as the farm at Baladna is a unique opportunity for us to work in a very difficult environment,” said Dr Dave Lunt, associate of Texas A&M Agrilife Research, who was part of the visiting research team.

“The heat and humidity here make it very difficult to run a productive dairy because the cows would prefer to be in a more temperate climate. What we learn here can then be applied in Texas and also in other places where we work. This was a wonderful opportunity to get to see an amazing world-class dairy, one the likes of which I’ve never personally experienced,” said Dr Lunt.

To see something go from conception to be a fully operating dairy at the scale at which they operate in just over 18 months is nothing short of amazing, he added.

Dr Kamel Abdallah, CEO of Baladna, said, “We at Baladna are delighted with the Texas A&M delegation visit. It was productive as it identified several important areas of possible collaboration between Baladna and Texas A&M. We believe our collaborative work could become a model for industry-research institutions and joint activities that enhance the competitiveness of Qatar, as well as our organisations.”

The Texas contingent also included two faculty from the Department of Animal Science in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Texas A&M, Dr G Cliff Lamb, professor and department head; and Dr Clare Gill, professor of animal genomics.

The team’s focus during their visit was to see if they could bring their agricultural expertise to bear on some of the challenges that Baladna is facing as it grows.

Texas A&M AgriLife supports healthy living for all Texans—and by extension, all citizens of the world through the research of targeted agricultural practices that yield nutritious food sources, outreach programmes that train community members on growing their own food, and preservation of natural resources via eco-friendly means, all while following practices that lead to stronger economies.

Gill said, “I think it’s amazing that the owners of Baladna had the audacity to build such a remarkable dairy in a country that doesn’t produce feed for dairy cattle. If you have cows, you have to feed them every day, all year round. So the logistical challenge has been a fascinating piece to me because that supply chain cannot fail.”

Lamb agreed and said, “A major challenge that we don’t get to deal with anywhere else in the world is the fact that everything that they have to do is imported. Baladna is truly a global business when you look at it. “The cattle are being fed products from all over the world, and that’s not something we are generally exposed to when we have a large cattle operation in the US, for example, where we can source most of those products within the country.”

In addition to research, Gill said she sees many opportunities for Texas A&M agriculture students as well as workforce development that could be mutually beneficial to Baladna, Texas A&M and Texas A&M at Qatar. “One aspect that would be a tremendous opportunity for our students is working with the very diverse cultures that are present in Baladna and in the country,” Gill said. “Their workforce is made up of maybe 40 different countries speaking many different languages, and I think that is something that would be tremendous for our students to experience.”

Lunt also said having the Qatar branch campus here presents a tremendous opportunity for facilitating teaching, research and service collaborations between Texas A&M and Baladna.

استضافت جامعة «تكساس إي أند أم» في قطر، مؤخراً وفداً من خبراء الزراعة من حرمها الرئيسي في تكساس، لزيارة شركة بلدنا للصناعات الغذائية، أكبر منتج للألبان الطازجة في قطر، وذلك لاستكشاف فرص التعاون.

وقال الدكتور دايف لانت، زميل أبحاث أجريلايف في «تكساس إي أند أم»، وأحد أعضاء فريق الأبحاث الزائر: «إن زيارة منشأة مثل مزرعة بلدنا هي فرصة فريدة بالنسبة لنا للعمل في بيئة صعبة للغاية، إذ تجعل الحرارة والرطوبة من الصعب للغاية تشغيل مزرعة ألبان، لأن الأبقار تفضل أن تكون في مناخ أكثر اعتدالًا. وبالتالي، يمكن تطبيق ما نتعلمه هنا في تكساس وفي أماكن أخرى نعمل فيها. وقد كانت هذه فرصة رائعة للتعرف على منتجات ألبان متميزة ذات مستوى عالمي، والتي لم يسبق لي أن رأيت مثلها شخصياً. إن رؤية مشروع طموح ينتقل من فكرة ليصبح مزرعة ألبان تعمل بكامل طاقتها على النطاق الذي تعمل فيه بلدنا خلال 18 شهرًا تقريبًا لا يمكن وصفه إلا بالأمر المذهل».

وقال الدكتور كامل عبدالله، الرئيس التنفيذي لشركة بلدنا للصناعات الغذائية: «لقد سررنا في «بلدنا» بزيارة وفد تكساس إي أند أم. لقد كانت زيارة مثمرة حددت عدة مجالات مهمة للتعاون المحتمل بين شركة بلدنا وتكساس إي أند أم. ونعتقد أن عملنا التعاوني يمكن أن يصبح نموذجًا للأنشطة المشتركة لمؤسسات البحوث الصناعية التي تعمل على تعزيز القدرة التنافسية لقطر ومؤسساتنا».

وقام الدكتور حسن بزي، العميد المشارك للأبحاث في جامعة تكساس إي أند أم في قطر، بتنظيم الزيارة، وقال: «تتمتع جامعة تكساس إي أند أم بالخبرة في مجموعة واسعة من المجالات، من الهندسة والزراعة وحتى الطب البيطري وغيره. وإن فرع الجامعة هنا في قطر في موقع فريد لإشراك الصناعة المحلية والمجتمع والحكومة والاستفادة من الخبرات المتاحة في حرم الجامعة الرئيسي لمصلحة دولة قطر واقتصادها وشعبها».

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