According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Water Resources, the Sultanate of Oman has approximately 2.2 million hectares of arable land, which is about 7 per cent of the country's total area. Rainfall is the primary source of water in the country, with about 16 billion cubic metres falling each year. Of this, around 13 billion cubic metres evaporates, with some lost as torrential rains that run into valleys and pour into the sea. About 1.643 billion cubic metres remain as surface and groundwater, of which the agricultural sector consumes around 1.546 billion cubic metres. The sectors of industry, commerce, municipality and tourism consume about 0.283 billion cubic metres.
Farms in the Sultanate of Oman are irrigated with water flowing from aflaj channels and wells. Open channels, locally called "al Saqia," and pipes transfer water from the source to the agricultural fields. Water transfer losses are estimated at about 173 million cubic metres annually, with a transmission efficiency of about 84 per cent. Only around 15 per cent of areas are irrigated by modern irrigation systems, indicating the need for an ambitious plan to address the water deficit.
The ministry has initiated a project in villages affected by low water levels to compensate for the water shortage. This project aims to reduce water losses and raise irrigation efficiency by constructing ground tanks to collect aflaj water and pump it to cultivated areas through a network of modern irrigation systems. This project addresses the water deficit resulting from low water levels in the channels and expands the area of agricultural fields, enhancing agricultural land investment opportunities.
The authorities are working to improve various aspects of agriculture by organising training courses for farmers. They are encouraged to rationalise the use of natural resources and emphasise modern technologies and advanced means of production, such as greenhouses, agricultural mechanisation and advanced irrigation methods.
Greenhouses are among the most important technologies farmers have begun to use in recent years. Many farmers prefer to build greenhouses because they significantly increase agricultural production abundance by using modern irrigation systems that conserve water. These new methods also contribute to reducing soil salinity resulting from water evaporation and salt deposition.
Research, studies and field projects implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Water Resources indicate that Omani farmers benefit greatly from using the greenhouse method, with the ability to grow about ten times more than in open fields, leading to a significantly higher level of agricultural production.
The ministry also introduced soilless cultivation technology under the irrigation system in greenhouses to save large quantities of irrigation water. This technology also saves the cost of using chemical fertilisers while increasing productivity and ensuring the product's quality. Greenhouses also protect plants from agricultural pests and harmful insects, producing good quality and virus-free fruits.
Agriculture specialists confirm that the high level of awareness among farmers in the Sultanate of Oman led to the introduction of the greenhouse system in crop cultivation, especially for various types of vegetables, resulting in an increase in the number of farmers adopting this technology in recent years.
Studies confirm that agricultural production from greenhouses operates throughout the year, with production rates ranging from 800 kg to tonnes annually for every four homes. This results in the local markets being supplied with sufficient quantities of agricultural products daily.
“Those who visit the local markets notice the abundance of vegetables and fruits. Most of the products come from greenhouses, which results in self-sufficiency in some agricultural products. All modern technologies that farmers have begun to use are yielding positive results. Commercial activity has become more active, and reliance on local products has become a priority during the current stage,” said a local farmer while thanking the government for its efforts to boost agriculture in the Sultanate.