MUSCAT, MAY 29 – With the Cyclone Mekunu destroying swathes of Salalah’s farms and agricultural produce, a sudden rise in prices of fruits and vegetables from there will ensue, say merchants. Oman’s southern tip of Dhofar Governorate, with its salubrious climate most of the year, is known for its different varieties of bananas, coconuts, papaya and mangoes which enjoy local, regional and international markets. Majority of the local fruits and vegetables produce for the Central Fruits and Vegetable Market in Mawaleh comes from Salalah. While more than half of the produce is used for local consumption, the remainder is exported across the borders.
The production and supply of these items have been affected after the Cyclone Mekunu. “Hence we will be forced to replace them with those from countries like Iran, Jordan and India. The results will only be felt in the coming days and the prices are poised to go up,” Sumesh, a vendor at the Mawaleh Market said. “Shortage of fruits and vegetables from Salalah wouldn’t have direct impact in a day or two because we have some substitutes from countries like Iran, Jordan and Egypt,” he added.
Added to this, the current road embargo imposed by the Royal Oman Police (ROP) for reasons of safety of the motorists has already affected the movement of the merchandise between Salalah and the capital city. Vehicles have been pulled over by the ROP between Thamrait and the mainland where roads were washed away by Mekunu on Friday.
This will add to the woes of the demand for tender coconuts in summer. A whopping 30 per cent of Oman’s fresh farm produce is cultivated in Salalah with bananas, papaya, watermelon and coconut varieties topping the list. Vast areas of plantains were uprooted.
“We will be bringing all these products from India and elsewhere by air. This will result in a price hike,” adds Jaffer Khan, Business Development Manager of a leading supplier.