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Rising cost of production in agricultural sector a deterrent to growth: OAA Secy

12 Dec 2021 By MOHAMMED TAHA

Muscat – Rising agricultural production costs act as a hindrance to increasing agricultural land and result in reluctance of Omani farmers to fully utilise the available farmland.

“The agricultural sector cannot grow and contribute to economic diversification in light of the increasing cost of production,” Ghosn al Rashidi, secretary of Omani Agriculture Association (OAA), told Muscat Daily.

“Unfortunately, lately, many Omanis have stopped cultivating half of their lands due to the cost of agricultural production. The cost includes the increase in the prices of imported fertilisers, transportation and seed prices. There are other reasons such as the lack of expatriate workers and the high taxes on agricultural supplies.”

He added that some Omani farmers are resorting to cultivating grass instead of crops because the cost of its cultivation is lower.

Abdul Malik al Hinai, an economic analyst, said the “agricultural sector cannot grow in light of the increasing direct or indirect production costs”, and the “absence of clear mechanisms for marketing agricultural products”.

“The agricultural sector in many countries receives great government support due to its strategic importance,” he said.

“Some people talk about expatriate workers in this sector, and about the competition of imported products with local products. I believe that the growth of the agricultural sector does not depend on reducing expatriate workers in it and reducing imports from abroad, because this will raise the cost to the consumer. The development of agriculture needs the reduction of the cost of production and providing support to the sector.”

Khalid al Salihi, a citizen, said, “I think the use of modern technology in agriculture and harvesting methods, modern irrigation systems, and reducing the electricity bill will help reduce the cost significantly.”

Abdul Karim al Hinai said the country needs food industries that can buy agricultural products and convert them into products with a longer shelf life. “Most agricultural products face the problem of shelf life after harvest, especially vegetables and fruits.”

Another citizen, Nasser al Hosni, said he thought the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Water Resources should set up a mechanism to help Omani farmers produce more than 160,000 tonnes of wheat annually to achieve self-sufficiency and encourage Omani companies to purchase Omani crops.

Last week, the Services and Social Development Committee of Majlis A’Shura held a meeting to discuss reducing electricity tariffs for the agricultural sector.

MAFWR to hold forum to support farmers

As part of its efforts to support farmers and livestock breeders, the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Water Resources (MAFWR) and Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OCCI) will hold their second forum on December 16.

It will be held at the headquarters of OCCI’s branch in North Sharqiyah governorate under the auspices of H E Dr Ahmed Nasser al Bakri, Undersecretary in MAFWR.

Ali bin Salim al Hajri, vice president for Financial and Administrative Affairs in OCCI’s branch in North Sharqiyah, said this year’s forum is titled ‘Agricultural marketing and post-harvest operations’.

The forum aims to spread the culture of agricultural work among young people, and exchange of experiences between farmers, agricultural engineers and livestock breeders to devise modern solutions for agricultural and animal marketing.

The forum will have participation of specialists in the agricultural and livestock sector, in addition to representatives of government and private agencies and community members who own projects in the agricultural and livestock sectors.

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