Bahrain plans agri training for farmers
Manama, April 21, 2013
Plans are underway to set up a state-of-the-art training facility for local farmers in a bid to boost Bahrain's agriculture industry, said a top official.
It is part of a Municipalities and Urban Planning Affairs Ministry initiative to develop a new agricultural zone in A'ali, which already houses the country's only hay field, the official told the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
The 212 acres of land will be divided into several sections over 100 acres, which will also feature a farmer's market.
"There will be two sections - one which will be a training facility that will introduce Bahraini farmers to new technologies and the other will be a market," the official.
"Farmers in Bahrain are good but they don't know how to sell their produce and because of that they are actually growing less than what they can, as they don't want to be stuck with stock. This new development will give farmers a venue to sell fresh produce openly and competitively and will essentially distinguish the local fruit and vegetables from the imported ones that are brought to the suq in Manama."
The project comes amid claims that Bahrain's agricultural land has shrunk dramatically in the past 10 years from 6,500 acres in 2000 to 2,500 acres last year.
Well-placed sources said it has significantly affected the local scene as farmers have nowhere to grow produce, and has also prevented newcomers from entering the field.
As a result, local farmers have been sidelined and frozen imported produce has been dominating the market.
However, the scheme hopes to tackle the issue, said the official. It follows the establishment of the farmer's market in Budaiya, which was initiated to help local farmers sell their produce and was spearheaded by Her Royal Highness Princess Sabeeka bint Ibrahim Al Khalifa, wife of His Majesty King Hamad and Supreme Council for Women president.
The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said farmers would also be introduced and trained in new techniques, including hydroponics, in a bid to help them grow seasonal produce all year round.
"If farmers can grow things that Bahrain would usually import because it was not the right season, it would give them a competitive edge," he said. "Growing locally will always be cheaper for the public than importing and it would allow farmers to profit more from the produce sold out of season."
"Also, most of these farmers are not big businessmen and will end up selling their produce for less than half what it is worth fearing that it will get spoilt. This is where the government or even a private entity needs to step in to manage the distribution of the produce in the country and offer farmers guarantees of sales. Otherwise farmers will stop farming and move into other industries,” he added. – TradeArabia News Service