PHOTOS BY LENA PETERSEN
You have all heard of the Bahla ‘magic.’ Well, now Izki has it own ‘green magic’ in the form of Ishaq Al Saqri’s latest agricultural venture. Stretching far into the distance, not too far from the historic old walled city of Harat Al Yemen, is a swathe of green that cuts an impressive sight on the outskirts of the Dakhilyah township of Izki. Jaggi Vasudev said, “With wrong farming methods, we turn fertile land into desert. Unless we go back to organic farming and save the soil, there is no future.”
Here is local businessman/farmer Al Saqri’s response, with the latest venture among his agricultural enterprises that include four other locations in Dakhilyah and Sharqiya. Following in the footsteps of his agriculturally minded father Yousuf, Al Saqri has a policy, or maybe more correctly a philosophy, of green crop production that will eventually become completely organic and environmentally sustainable, and it’s not all that far away. He proudly identifies a combination of “good soil, quality seeds, clean water and naturally produced fertilizers” as the keys to his impressive crop yields, and beams with satisfaction at the crop around us.
“This is good light soil, that doesn’t take a lot of tractor work to get it ready for planting,” he said, “and with our crop rotation policies, we are probably enhancing the soil each time we turn it over, as what one crop takes from the soil, another gives. Then the science takes over briefly, as we must be extremely accurate with our planting distances. Too close together and the crop cannot flourish but too far apart and we could waste acreage.”
He explained too that the water quality is exceptionally good here, and further identified a pond for producing his own clean, green, fertilizers. “This fertilizer is amazing. It sustains significant plant growth, as you can see, and the crop is also free of the pests and insects you will often see in such crops. For now, we are growing string beans, cucumbers, okra, eggplants, zucchinis, and maize, and we are preparing the ground for a watermelon plot just a few hundred meters away.”
He is proud of the environmentally friendly nature of his entire operation, and is proud of the fact that nothing is wasted, with much of the green leaf excess being utilized as stock feed by local farmers, the remainder worked into the ground perpetuating the agricultural ‘circle of life.’ “It is while we are treating Mother Nature respectfully, that she treats us so well maybe?”
Al Saqri is far too progressive however and appears to have far too much business acumen to reject scientific development. “That is progress, and the man who does not keep looking ahead will not progress much. There are traditional elements to our farming however, as much as there are modern, scientific, cutting edge agricultural, and aquacultural elements to what we do, and we will look at anything that gives us quality produce.”
An endless succession of locals arrived, purchased their vegetables, and though social distancing was at a premium, at least everyone wore their masks. “They are just very excited,” smiled Al Saqri bashfully, “and though we are using biodegradable plastic bags now, we are moving into paper bags and mini cartons soon, to sustain our environmentally friendly profile.” With that, he picked a zucchini fresh from the crop and passed it to me… one bite saw the delicious, healthy, natural juice proving his point, about quality and freshness, without another word. It really is… magic!