FNC stresses suffering of farmers and camel owners to minister

FNC member Mosabeh Al Kitbi has said Emirati farmers have suffered great losses due to lack of marketing support of their produce leading them to leave farming altogether while camels were dying daily due to an unknown disease.

Mohammed Abdul Mateen prunes cucumber plants at Modern Organic Farm in Al Dhaid. FNC member Mosabeh Al Ketbi says farmers need more help in marketing their produce. Sarah Dea / The National
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ABU DHABI // Emirati farmers and camel owners are suffering, a Federal National Council member told the Minister of Environment and Water.

The FNC sent an official letter to the minister, Dr Rashid bin Fahad, from FNC member Mosabeh Al Ketbi (Sharjah) questioning the ministry’s intentions to address its concerns.

Mr Al Ketbi said Emirati farmers had suffered great losses because of a lack of marketing support for their produce, leading them to leave farming altogether, while camels were dying daily because of an unknown disease.

In a written response Dr bin Fahad provided a list of efforts from the ministry to help farmers to sell their produce..

He noted that the number of farms in the country had increased from 7,759 in 1977 to 35,414 this year. Of those, 11,020 are in the Northern Emirates.

“The UAE is facing big challenges due to environmental conditions,” the minister wrote.

“High temperatures, the scarcity of water and other reasons relating to high costs of production and market competition from exported goods.”

He went on to say his ministry had helped farmers by offering free farming advice and technical support. Farmers have also been offered equipment at half price, and workshops on how to overcome obstacles.

“The ministry recently sponsored the start-up of the first cooperative society for farmers in the country [in RAK],” said Dr bin Fahad. “The [co-op] aims at marketing farmers’ products primarily.”

The ministry also helped to sell farmers’ produce by working with several retailers.

Last year, 55 kinds of produce were sold though the Etihad cooperative society. Produce totalled 500 tonnes and was valued at Dh9 million.

Dates were also heavily marketed. Last year the Sharjah Co-op and Lulu sold 200 tonnes for farmers.

Farmers were also encouraged to take part in annual exhibitions and to learn from marketing experts on how to sort and wrap their produce.

In another letter, the minister said camels were possibly dying because of long-distance transport, a lack of moving space, or fodder that contained bacteria. He said the deaths were limited.

But on Tuesday Mr Al Ketbi said he was not satisfied with the minister’s answers. He has asked for him to be summoned to the next FNC session.