A total of 354 farm fire incidents occurred in the Sultanate in 2016, according to the Public Authority for Civil Defence and Ambulances. (PACDA).
Such incidents mostly occur in summer because of faulty disposal of agricultural waste.
Nassir al Wuhaibi, Senior Soil Researcher, Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, attributed such fires to the dryness of trees and plants that haven’t been watered for long. “In abandoned farms, there are a lot of dry trees and palms due to lack of watering and care,” he told Observer.
He said fires also occur in dense farms where branches are overlapping. “There should be a distance of at least 6 to 8 metres between one tree and the other. Farms covered
mainly with trees are likely face the risk of fire.”
Al Wuhaibi said carelessness on the part of farmers in clipping trees with dead leaves has an impact too. “Farmers should get rid of dead parts or dried parts regularly. Lack of proper care can inflict a huge damage.”
On the proper disposal of agricultural waste, Al Wuhaibi indicated that the ministry, represented by the Directorate General of Agriculture & Livestock Research, has conducted certain experiments in recycling.
“Tree residue can be transformed into compost or organic fertilisers. We have conducted successful experiments by mixing tree waste with livestock feed. We have used it as a medium for water culturing, that is, using milled leaves to grow plants in green houses. As milled leaves are rich in nutrients, we also too advantage by mixing it with soil to improve its chemical and physical properties,” he said.
Urging farmers to take care of their farms instead of expat workers, Al Wuhaibi said Omani farmers have gained sufficient awareness in this regard. “However, expats working in farms don’t follow safety procedures.”
He called upon municipalities in wilayats to exhort farm owners to dispose waste materials in remote, isolated places, observe wind conditions, and keep pesticides/ chemical substances in areas away from sun or fire.
Zainab al Nassri