SWATI BASU DAS –
The early morning lawns of the farm houses in Barka, Suwaiq buzz with action, as up for grabs on the pleasant day break are batches of pomegranates, apples, peaches, plums, apricots, almonds, walnuts, grapes, pears, cherries and a high pile assortment of exotic vegetables, local honey and herbs and sometimes even fresh chicken and eggs.
Even in Salalah, several areas are transformed into a bustling markets and the wares on offer include bananas, coconuts, papayas and pomegranates and more sold fresh straight from the farms.
They are the freshest and tastiest available fruits and vegetables bought at farmers’ market which are sold directly from the gardens without forcing the ripening process.
“These veggies not only tastes good but add a whole lot of goodness to our health,” says Dr. Maheshwari, a general practitioner at a private hospital in Muscat.
These farm fresh exotic produce presents the most delectable dishes. Interest in agriculture since ancient times has not only been an important source of income but also a hobby that offers variety of food taste to every home.
These new upmarket versions of the Oman bazaar are springing up all over the country and they are ready to serve the freshly grown greens and vitamins-rich fruits to all — locals and expats.
The farmers’ market in Ibra brings farmers and their produce from faraway places.
On top of the farm fresh assortment of food, they also offer organic produce and top-notch artisanal food.
The salesmen behind the counters, may they be local farmers or expat workers employed by the owners, are directly reaching out to customers so the interaction is also an advantage as it becomes a personal one.
“I travel more than 100km a day to buy these goods in Barka,” said Mohammed Al Kindi, who resides at Seeb.
As per the farmers, the market is based on the ‘farm to the plate’ concept. By knowing this concept, they hope people understand the labour put in by the farmers to come up with the produce who often have to work under difficult weather conditions.
The biggest advantage of going to a farmers’ market is that consumers also pick goods directly from the producers.
Most crucially, these farmers’ market, to a very large extent, are all about healthy eating and there’s a great deal of organic produce on offer.
“Why eat something which is few days old from the supermarkets when you can get them fresh and locally produced in Oman?” the farmers asked.
Recently, agricultural researchers from the Sultan Qaboos University (SQU) saw Oman’s southern region, Dhofar, as a potential and a fertile hub to grow vegetables and fruits.
The SQU faculty members had carried out a study to explore the potential to increase domestic production of vegetables and fruits across the Sultanate. The suitable climatic conditions of Dhofar region has made it a core area for growing fresh and nutritious fruits and vegetables.
Receiving its seasonal rainfall from the Indian Ocean, this region is a suitable area for expansion of vegetable production.
“The average temperature range in Salalah is from 22 to 28 degrees Celsius. This means that onions, garlic, tomatoes, watermelons, bananas, cucumbers and chillies can be comfortably grown in this area, including crops like potato, cauliflower, cabbage, carrot, broccoli, lettuce etc,” a researcher narrated.
Even the hills of Al Jabal Al Akhdar tops the list of the production of fruits in Oman where land and climate is considered fertile for pomegranates, apples, peaches, plums, apricots, almonds, walnuts, grapes, pears, cherries, figs and olives where they are also grown in abundance.
Apart from Al Jabal Al Akhdar, watermelons, melons, and guava are grown on the coast of North Al Batinah, Al Buraimi, A’Dhahirah and North A’Sharqiyah, including Al Mudhaibi.
The coasts of the Governorates of North and South Al Batinah are characterised by the production of many fruit crops that require high temperatures, such as date palms, mango, banana and papayas. Dates are grown in plenty in the Governorates of Muscat, A’Dakhiliyah, A’Dhahirah, Al Buraimi, North and South A’Sharqiyah.
What is commendable about Oman’s farmers is that they have turned the plains and deserts into gardens and green fields where they are regularly growing various crops. All these they offer directly from their farms to your plates.