Your Health First launches ‘Harvest Day’ event celebrating self-sufficiency and healthy eating
Your Health First held its first ‘Harvest Day’ event to celebrate bringing in a large crop of fresh fruit and vegetables grown in Qatar under the Khayr Qatarna initiative, which boosts self-sufficiency and encourages healthy eating.
Dignitaries from Qatar Foundation (QF), the Ministry of Education and Higher Education, the Ministry of Municipality and Environment, ExxonMobil Qatar, and Occidental Petroleum of Qatar Ltd. were at the Harvest Day event at Amna bint Wahab Preparatory School for Girls to see students bringing in a bumper crop of tomatoes. Harvests at nine other schools participating in Khayr Qatarna yielded plentiful crops of fruit and vegetables including strawberries, cucumbers, tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, colored peppers, red cabbage and green beans. All the crops have been granted the status of ‘Premium Products’ – an indication of their freshness and quality – by the Ministry of Municipality and Environment.
All of the produce has been grown in large-scale climate-controlled greenhouses installed at the schools by Your Health First as part of the Khayr Qatarna initiative, which was launched in 2018 to help make a positive contribution to Qatar’s self-sufficiency. The initiative also teaches students valuable lessons about healthy eating, agriculture, environmental awareness, and sustainability issues. Students are also learning about key business operations, such as logistics, commerce and economics, helping the younger generation gain the knowledge required to achieve the goals of Qatar National Vision 2030. Harvest Day will now be held each year to celebrate the bringing in of the crop.
Your Health First, which is the flagship public health campaign of Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar (WCM-Q), initially installed large-scale greenhouses at three secondary schools as part of Khayr Qatarna’s pilot program. Khayr Qatarna has proven such a success that the project was expanded and there are now a total of 10 greenhouses in operation at 10 schools. Khayr Qatarna itself grew out of Your Health First’s extremely popular Project Greenhouse initiative, which saw smaller greenhouses installed at more than 130 elementary schools all over Qatar.
The fruit and vegetables grown in the greenhouses are distributed with Khayr Qatarna branding to the community through local supermarkets and also among the school students’ families and their communities. All proceeds from sales are reinvested in the project to allow for further expansion.
Fawzia Abdulaziz Al Khater, assistant undersecretary for educational affairs at the Ministry of Education and Higher Education, stressed that the initiative of Sahtak Awalan – Your Health First embodies the effective partnership between the Ministry of Education and Higher Education and state institutions.
Mrs. Al Khater added that the Ministry’s support for this initiative stems from its keen interest in all that enhances the environmental and health awareness of students, and its commitment to build self-confidence that we are able to eat from what we grow, making tremendous strides towards the nation’s self-sufficiency, and giving students the opportunity to contribute effectively to this effort and support farmers to be more productive.
She pointed out that introducing students to the importance of agriculture and the principles of sound nutrition and healthy food is one of the priorities of education, in addition to raising awareness among students of the importance of eating fresh vegetables for better health. She also hailed the initiative as a starting point for several other initiatives that would benefit students and our beloved country, Qatar, in general.
Mrs. Al Khater concluded by thanking all students and teachers who contributed to the successful harvest day in schools across Qatar, noting that the participation of students reflects their awareness of the importance of contributing to their country’s progress, and of the fact that the hand that holds the pen should also have a fundamental role in building the nation.
HE Dr. Faleh bin Nasser Al Thani, assistant undersecretary for agriculture affairs & fisheries resources said: “We are pleased to participate in the first Harvest Day of Khayr Qatarna in Qatari schools, which is a confirmation of the seriousness of the work of this project and its importance.”
HE added that the project in Qatari schools will contribute to the supply of fresh agricultural produce grown by students and will raise students’ awareness of the concepts and importance of agricultural production.
“We look forward to further cooperation to launch more projects in schools that support the objectives of the Ministry of Municipality and Environment, especially those that support and promote activities and projects that would raise the level of self-sufficiency and help us achieve food security,” HE concluded.
Mrs. Buthaina Ali Al Nuaimi, president, Pre-University Education, QF, said: “It is wonderful to see how much the Khayr Qatarna initiative has grown since it was launched last year.
“Food security is a key priority for Qatar, and we at Qatar Foundation are delighted to support this program – along with other key local entities – and its aim of educating young people about the importance of self-sufficiency and healthy eating. Ultimately, this is a collective investment in a sustainable future for Qatar.”
“We’re pleased to support our partner Your Health First’s Harvest Day – an exciting and fun event, which provides our youth with priceless learning experiences and promotes healthy eating,” said Alistair Routledge, President and General Manager for ExxonMobil Qatar. “It teaches the value of hard work, helps build self-awareness and inspires a sense of community in the young generation – this is something we continuously strive to achieve through our community outreach programs at ExxonMobil Qatar.
“Harvest Day actively engages Qatar’s youth in scientific and engineering practices, from seed planting techniques to understanding how plants grow in greenhouses. They also learn the economics of the food industry as well as how to market and sell the produce. Your Health First’s projects are helping Qatar’s youth deepen their understanding of key concepts in important subjects in a fun and practical way. This aligns with the educational development work we’re doing with our many local partners to prepare students with 21st century skills and meet the objectives of Qatar National Vision 2030,” he added.
Andrew H. Kershaw, president and general manager of Occidental Petroleum of Qatar Ltd., said:
“Oxy is honored to support Khayr Qatarna and the wider Sahtak Awalan campaign. Not only are we encouraging our communities to eat healthier, but we are also providing our children with valuable lessons about agriculture and the environment and we are supporting Qatar toward sustainability. Oxy strives to support and participate in all the communities wherever it operates.”
Mrs. Nadya Mohd Sultan Larem, school principal at Amna bint Wahab Preparatory School for Girls said: “The Project Greenhouse initiative and its expansion into schools across Qatar has contributed to familiarizing students with the values of food self-sufficiency and independence in food production. The initiative has also promoted awareness of healthy lifestyles and transformed participating schools into production units, combining theoretical science with practical knowledge and fostering a culture of healthy eating through vegetables grown by students themselves. Moreover, students are more aware now of the importance of staying away from processed foods and instead choosing a vegetable-rich diet, as well as the importance of relying on local fresh produce instead of imported foods that need transport and cooling, contributing to the preservation of the environment.” She concluded by thanking WCM-Q.
Dr. Javaid Sheikh, dean of WCM-Q, said: “Harvest Day is a remarkable moment, marking the culmination of a great deal of hard work and effort by all involved in growing the crops. We are honored that so many people attended today to celebrate our inaugural Harvest Day, and I want to extend my most sincere thanks to all of our students, teachers, and our partners for supporting this extremely worthwhile campaign and making the success of Khayr Qatarna possible.”