Sweet potatoes from North Al Batinah

LIWA: The Omani farmer is taking a great care of his land and harness his potential to have better harvest. In the wilayats of the Governorate of North Al Batinah, namely Shinas, Liwa and Suhar, sweet potatoes, locally known as ‘Fendal’, are cultivated. This fruit is tasteful, and is usually found on Omani table for breakfast time, especially during winter season.
Sweet potatoes, which are locally grown, are dark purple, some pink and some white.
Hamdan bin Abdullah al Farsi, a farmer, said, “Fendal has been cultivated since ancient times and is a source of livelihood and food. It is characterised by its sweet taste.
“Some farmers grow sweet potatoes in August and others in September where a small stick of the leaves is cut and planted in a ground, specially prepared for sweet potatoes cultivation locally called ‘Al Khoboub’ to continue to grow in the ground for 3 months.
“It comes in different forms and creeps on the ground to reach one to two metres to form a panoramic view and overlapping green areas.”
He said that the harvest is due at the end of December and January and continues until April before the summer and the severe heat that affects sweet potato.
He added that the price of one bag of sweet potatoes, which contains between 10 to 12 kilogrammes at the beginning of the season, ranges between RO 3 to 4.
Ibrahim bin Said al Ghaithi, Director of Agricultural Affairs Department in the Governorate of North Al Batinah, said that the ministry, represented by the Directorate-General of Agriculture and Animal Wealth in the governorate and its affiliated departments, supports the cultivation of these crops to preserve the Omani products, which the Omani farmers manage to preserve genetically, as it is a trademark of the Sultanate.
He added that the ministry’s plans and programmes encourage farmers to preserve this agricultural heritage, not to mention the growing demand for sweet potatoes, as the Governorate of North Al Batinah is considered the leading producer of this type of agricultural crops due to the climate and fertile lands.
Yousef bin Hassan al Maamari, Head of the Statistics Division at the Department of Agricultural Development in the Wilayat of Liwa, said that there are three known types of Omani sweet potatoes, namely Omani white and red Fendal, and Egyptian red Fendal, which is believed to have been brought for a long time by the Arab communities of the Arab Republic of Egypt.
The villages of Al Farafra, Al Aqar, Al Widiyat and Al Ghawabi in the Wilayat of Shinas are among the most popular villages where Omani sweet potatoes are grown.
Red sweet potato production in recent years has reached 8-12 tonnes per acre. White sweet potatoes have a productivity of 5 to 7 tonnes per acre.
— ONA