Enhance agri marketing infrastructure: Study

MUSCAT: A recent study conducted by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries has underscored the importance of developing marketing infrastructure to be on par with international standards and contribute to providing job opportunities in the agricultural sector. The study also recommended applying integrated units for post-harvest stages of home-grown agricultural products.
The study, a copy of which was obtained by Oman Arabic, sister publication of the Observer, emphasised the need to set up marketing information network to connect local fruit and vegetable markets with those of neighbouring countries to achieve market integration and more transparency for stakeholders. The study also highlighted the importance of improving the farm management system and pay more attention to the issue of reducing losses during the production and harvesting stages focusing on keeping records of farmer’s input and output.
The study covered samples collected from 600 farmers all across the Sultanate (excluding Al Wusta Governorate) through applying multi-stage random sampling.
The study shows that nearly 90 per cent of farmers of all categories (small, medium and large farmers) are literate and more than 14 per cent hold college certificates.
The average of full-time expatriate workers stands at 1.4 in small-scale farms and 17.8 in large-scale farms. Omani farmers have several marketing channels, however, the most commonly used among them is the farmgate sales either to consumer or brokers accounting for 37 per cent of total sales, the study shows.
Pests were found by the study to be the most serious challenge facing farmers beside lack of pesticides. Other challenges include shortage in seeds in the local market and lack of modern agricultural equipment.
The study also pointed out to problems associated with marketing such as lack of central markets and lack of warehouses for the storage of agricultural produce.