While Oman is located within the Middle East, the country has been blessed with diverse topography that is ideal for agriculture. These fertile lands had made it possible for farmers to grow different agricultural products all year round which makes their way to different shopping centres and markets across the Sultanate of Oman. There were challenges along the way in growing crops but as of today, with aid of modern technology, farmers are able to cultivate different varieties of palm trees, citrus and other fruit-bearing crops including a wide variety of root crops.
The Governorate of Al Batinah has become the food basket of Oman producing the majority of these crops with areas like Al Mudhaibi, Nakhl, Wakan and Al Jabal Al Akhdhar adding to the annual supplies of agricultural goods.
In the last two months, grapes had been the fruit in season that dominated many central markets in different wilayats. In the past, many of the country’s date consumption was imported from other countries but with patience and hard work from farmers, locally produce grapes are creating a competition which lowers the prices of these particular fruits.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Water Resources pays great attention to the cultivation of this crop of fruits and it continues to provide material and moral support to farmers through holding seminars, providing improved seedlings, introducing farmers to modern methods in the field of agriculture, and working to promote agricultural products.
Grapes had become a favourite not just by consumers but also by farmers because of their nutritional value and good taste. The cultivation of grapes is widespread in many Oman wilayats, especially in the mountainous regions that enjoy moderate temperatures in the summer. Among these areas are the villages of Wadi Mistal in the Wilayat of Nakhl, where the cultivation of deciduous trees such as peaches, apricots, pomegranates and grapes is widespread. Grapes are cultivated in the villages of Wadi Mistal by using trellises to obtain an abundant and economically feasible crop.
Additionally, the cultivation of grapes requires special care and trellis plantings from above so that the branches of the grape tree wrap around them, and these trellises help the tree in the process of drooping clusters.
There are many types of grapes grown in Oman and they come in different colours — black, white and even a Lebanese variety.
Grape harvests had become an attraction between June and August. Many locals visit different farms not only to take photos and enjoy the harvest but also to taste these gifts of the season.
The price of one kilo during this period is about one and a half riyals and its value rises at the end of the season. It is marketed in the local markets and sometimes it is sold directly from the farm. The prices of the grape crop vary depending on quality and flavour.
Local grapes are produced in limited quantities which is why farmers need more encouragement. Black/red varieties of grapes are greatly favoured by Omanis but the limited quantity of production yearly has caused its increasing demand. It is rare to find this variety in supermarkets as usually, they are normally bought right off the farms.
Great attention is needed for the cultivation of grapes in Oman. From the beginning of the season until the date of harvest, great care is needed by farmers to continuously monitor proper irrigation, fertilisation, pruning and creation of an appropriate environment for the fruits to grow.
The pruning process of the grape vines is carried out after the trees enter the phase of rest and dormancy and the fall of the leaves. Trees are encouraged to do so by preventing irrigation of the grape vines during November, December and January until the trees enter the resting phase and then the pruning process is completed and the buds and fruits grow in mid-July when the crop is to be harvested.