UAE import ban threatens agricultural sector in Oman
Staff Writer |
The UAE ban on Omani melons, watercress and carrots is having a huge economic impact as well as hurting the reputation of agricultural products of the country, say industry players.
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Kuwait followed UAE in banning the import of carrots from Oman, while imposing strict regulations on other farm products.
While the bigger corporate players understand the importance of production protocol, what chemicals to use, the spray timings as well the right harvest time and shipments to the market, the same cannot be said of the many small operators involved in the business.
And, unfortunately the non-conformance of a tiny percentage of the producers has affected the entire industry.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries had stated after the announcement of the ban by the UAE that the quality of most Omani produce matched international standards.
“Over 1,600 samples of farm products were analysed and issued pesticide residue analysis certificates from specialised laboratories. These tests proved that 98 per cent of the samples conform to internationally permissible limits.”
All local producers have called on the authorities to find a quick solution to the problem as agricultural products have a short shelf life. “The nature of our market is such that we don’t have the luxury of time. If a solution has to be found it has to be now,” said the head of a large agricultural company.
The ban, according to the producers, has come at the worst possible time - just before Ramadan.
“The ban has had a massive impact on us. We along with small farmers depend on Ramadan for good returns. Prices have crashed in the local market because of excess supply. We are sitting on thousands of tonnes of unsold carrots and melons.
“Our cold stores are full and truckloads of produce are waiting outside the farms,” said a representative of Tawoos Agricultural Systems, one of the largest corporate farming companies in the region.
Shauwn Basson, GM, Nehad Agronomy Services, which is one of the largest exporters of fresh fruits and vegetables in the country, said that the result of such a ban is the spread of negative perception about Omani products.
“Negative publicity has affected us even more. All our existing customers want reassurance from us by asking for fresh tests and certifications.
“A huge amount of work is needed to rebuild the lost trust. We should have a constructive and continuous dialogue with our neighbours. Something like this is the last thing that the market needs, considering the situation (slowdown) we are in.” ■
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