Muscat – Among the many research projects submitted for the National Research Award is one titled ‘Investigating the efficiency of greenhouse production in Oman: A two-stage approach based on Data Envelopment Analysis and double bootstrapping’. Conducted by principal investigator Dr Nawal al Mezeini, it is among the 13 winning projects of the eighth edition of the award organised by the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation.
Winning in the Environmental and Biological Resources field of the PhD category, Nawal elaborated that Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA) of greenhouse (GH) production is the first step to objectively assess the situation and build reliable tools to support stakeholders’ decisions and achieve more rational resource consumption, which is a key factor for sustainable GH production. The study investigated efficiency measures, set benchmarks for GH production in Oman and examined the impact of contextual factors on GH efficiency using a double bootstrapping approach.
DEA revealed a high level of inefficiency among GH farms, with an average technical efficiency of 73 per cent, which is below the findings of similar studies where scores ranged between 82 per cent and 93 per cent. Furthermore, efficiency analysis showed that water and electricity were overused, with excesses of more than 54 per cent and 46 per cent, respectively.
For further identification of potential sources of inefficiency and to support policymakers in setting regulations and developing future strategies, the impact of contextual factors, which are neither inputs nor outputs but which indirectly influence the efficiency of GH, have been studied using double bootstrapping approach, Nawal informed.
She further stated that results of her research indicate that GH farmers in the government agricultural sector are likely to be the most efficient. Water salinity appeared to be the most detrimental factor in GH efficiency. She maintained that increased salinity of irrigation water is a direct consequence of seawater intrusion, caused primarily by over pumping of groundwater. The combined effect of the latter factors has been enhanced in the slack analysis. Water and electricity were found to be the most depleted resources.
To enhance the efficiency of GH farms, Dr Nawal recommended more training programmes for farmers regarding rational consumption of resources in order to achieve more sustainable GH production. For policies and regulations, she suggested that a regulated water framework is essential, as well as an appropriate revision of the government’s subsidy policies.
This research project was conducted at Sultan Qaboos University by a team comprising Dr Amar Oukil and Dr Abdulrahim al Ismaili, besides Nawal. The study was published in the scientific journal The Journal of Cleaner Production with high impact factor of 9.297.