Rising production costs in the agricultural sector are holding back growth

Muscat – Rising agricultural production costs are hampering the expansion of agricultural land and resulting in reluctance among Omani farmers to make full use of available agricultural land.

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

“Unfortunately, in recent times, many Omanis have stopped farming half of their land due to the cost of agricultural production. The cost includes increased prices for imported fertilizers, transport and seed prices. There are other reasons such as lack of expatriate workers and high taxes on agricultural supplies.

He added that some Omani farmers resort to growing grass instead of crops because the cost of growing it is lower.

Abdul Malik al Hinai, economic analyst, said that “the agricultural sector cannot develop given the increase in direct or indirect production costs” and “the absence of clear mechanisms for the marketing of agricultural products”.

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

“Some talk about expatriate workers in this sector, and the competition of imported products with local products. I believe that the growth of the agricultural sector does not depend on the reduction of expatriate workers and the reduction of imports from abroad, because this will increase the cost for the consumer. The development of agriculture requires the reduction of production costs and support for 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 to significantly reduce the costs.

Abdul Karim al-Hinai said the country needs food industries that can buy agricultural products and process 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 believed the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Water Resources should set up a mechanism to help Omani farmers produce more than 160,000 tons of wheat. per year to achieve self-sufficiency and encourage Omani companies to purchase Omani crops.

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

MAFWR will organize a forum to support farmers

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

It will be held at the headquarters of the OCCI branch in the northern governorate of Sharqiyah under the auspices of HE Dr. Ahmed Nasser al Bakri, Under-Secretary of MAFWR.

Ali bin Salim al Hajri, vice president of financial and administrative affairs of OCCI’s North Sharqiyah branch, 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 to exchange experiences between farmers, agricultural engineers and breeders to imagine modern solutions for agricultural and animal marketing.

The forum will bring together specialists from the agriculture and livestock sector, as well as representatives from government and private agencies and community members who have projects in the agriculture and livestock sectors.

Lana T. Arthur