Bahrain plans major agri sector boost
Manama, March 11, 2012
Bahrain plans to launch several greenery drives in various governorates, as well as prizes for agricultural development and educational courses to boost the agricultural sector in the country.
Plans include the development of the King Hamad Prize for Agricultural Development and introduction of an Agriculture Technology Diploma at Bahrain Polytechnic.
They will be launched under the National Initiative for Agricultural Development (NIAD), which was launched by Her Royal Highness Princess Sabeeka bint Ibrahim Al Khalifa in 2010.
It aims to unify all stakeholders and existing efforts to boost the agricultural sector and plan for its future development. It intends to enhance food security, increase greenery in each governorate and encourage small and medium-sized enterprises in agricultural development, said project co-ordinator Shaikha Reem bint Ebrahim Al Khalifa.
"The main idea is to serve the people of Bahrain and environment, find a way to help the middle class and make Bahrain a more beautiful and greener place, she said.
"One of the aims is to increase agricultural contribution to the GDP (gross domestic product) from below one per cent to 3-5 per cent by 2030. Food security is a big issue these days, so bringing up the GDP contribution is important."
The initiative has already benefited farmers by providing loans and grants though entities such as Tamkeen and the Ebdaa Bank. Other plans include introducing the latest technologies in agriculture such as hydroponic and soil-less gardening, proposing regulations, training workforce, creating job opportunities and spreading awareness.
The United Nations Industrial Development Organisation is planning an Agropreneur programme to transfer knowledge and technology from abroad to Bahrain. To help the initiative achieve its goals HRH Princess Sabeeka launched the King Hamad Prize for Agricultural Development at the Bahrain International Garden Show (BIGS) earlier this year.
It will be awarded in five categories: best company contributing to agricultural GDP, best small agriculture project, best governorate, private sector company which allocated part of its corporate social responsibility towards agricultural development, and studies and research.
Key objectives to be achieved from the launch of the prize include increasing greenery in Bahrain's governorates, the demand for Bahraini farmers and encouraging investment and entrepreneurship.
"The prize will be awarded once every two years and the first one will be presented by 2014," said Shaikha Reem. "It will include a cash award and benefits through government services."
The Agriculture Technology Diploma was another initiative launched by HRH Princess Sabeeka at BIGS to further develop agriculture in Bahrain and train those interested in developing a career in the sector.
Bahrain Polytechnic will offer the diploma and specialised courses through hands-on experience and tuition from specialists in various fields. Programmes to be offered include an Associate Degree in Primary Production and specialised qualifications in areas such as home gardening, irrigation design and soil management and hydroponics.
"They are still working on finalising the curriculum, but diploma students will be given agriculture training at the Howrat A'ali project," said Shaikha Reem.
It is a 900,000 sq m plot of land that was established in Salmabad in 1988 with the aim of promoting food production and making Bahrain self-sufficient. It already has 7,000 palm trees and produces dry hay for local livestock.
Shaikha Reem said several workshops about the diploma had been held and attracted both professional gardeners and hobbyists.
The initiative plans to support the diploma programme by bringing in more Arabic speaking teachers from ministries and other networks.
It will also help classes to be more hands-on by linking governorate nurseries to be used for hands-on learning experiences.
Project co-ordinator Noora Abdulla Kaiksow said all governorates were being encouraged to support the initiative and contend for the King's prize.
"When all governorates are working together it helps to unite communities and develop the field of agriculture in a professional way. We want them to make the country greener and also make it more environmentally friendly,” she said. – TradeArabia News Service