Emirati farmers show interest in organic vegetables

By Aftab Kazmi Bureau Chief

Organic Vegetables
Organic Vegetables

Al Ain: Emirati farmers are showing keen interest in the cultivation of organic vegetables as the Abu Dhabi Farmers’ Services Centre (ADFSC) attracts them to its demonstration fields in Al Ain.

The centre has successfully cultivated tomatoes and sweet corn at its fields in the west Salamat district, said James Thompson, the Field Crops Unit Head at the ADFSC. “This type of farming needs a different management plan but Emirati farmers have a strong interest in it,” he said.

It is a step by step programme that first needs technical know-how and water management along with other key elements. Organic farming is, however, controlled by a strict certification regime under the Ministry of Water and Environment. Organic produce also has a very high potential in the local market, said Thompson yesterday (Monday) during a field visit in Al Ain.

Engineer Awad Ghazi, in-charge of the organic farming fields in Al Ain, said that the cultivation of tomatoes and sweet corn had given encouraging results with produce of a high standard. The success has encouraged Emirati farmers who are coming forward to obtain know-how and technical support from the ADFSC.

He said an Emirati farmer in Al Ain has converted his conventional farms into a greenhouse for organic vegetable farming. “This was really impressive,” said Ghazi, adding that the centre had been providing all the necessary support to interested farmers.

Engineer Ahmad Al Katheri, in charge of the broccoli project, said Emirati farmers had no idea about the cultivation of broccoli. The centre introduced three varieties of this vegetable that have yielded successful results.

Talking about the role of ADFSC, Thompson said that this was the first full harvest season of the centre at its demonstration farms in Al Ain. The ADFSC had started preparing its 12 farms and 30 domains in Al Ain in August 2012. The centre has been growing 135 varieties of 37 types of vegetables apart from the organic project. It also operates 22 farms in Abu Dhabi.

The ADFSC, established in 2009 to bring strategic agricultural reform in Abu Dhabi, provides technical and operational support services to farmers, helping them grow and market their produce, said Thompson. “We have been working closely with the farmers to improve productivity, modernise farming methods, and contribute to sustainable food security,” he added.

Farms across the emirate of Abu Dhabi grow some 42 kinds of vegetables and fruits, with cucumber and potato making up the bulk of the produce. About 14,000 farmers work with the centre across the emirate and a thousand of them also supply the centre with their produce.

The ADFSC brands the locally sourced produce as Local Harvest and markets it through 15 ADFSC Souq supermarkets across the emirate, besides prominent retail chains. The centre, he said, offers a minimum price guarantee to the farmers and collects only 15 per cent of the price when prices stay in the profitable range. The centre also has two packaging and grading centres in Al Ain and the Western Region. Source Gulf News

Published: Zarai Media Team

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