MUSCAT, Feb 3 – A visit to the Heritage Village at Amerat Park, one of the Muscat Festival venues, is a learning experience. It tells us how farms were irrigated or how water was drawn from the wells. Mohammed Sulaiman from Al Hamra Wilayat, goads his bulls up and down a slope constructed to help collect water from a well. It was a demonstration of the age-old irrigation system that supplemented the traditional ‘Falaj’ and a perfect example of man-animal unison for irrigating crops. “Collecting water for crops from nearby wells using cows and bulls was quite routine in the past,” said Sulaiman.
“It was the task of youngsters in the family to water the crops. We would wake up in the morning to take cows to our ancestral farms, where we walked them up and down the slope constructed next to the well and made sure we had watered all the crops,” he said.
They also collected sufficient amount of water for home before going back home. “The system is still practised in some villages,” he said.
Before the branded sugar found its way to the Omani kitchens, say until some two decades ago, it was the responsibility of these animals to make sure natural sugar reached all homes in the village.
A handmade machine using wood and rope, and pulled around by two bulls was in use in most villages for making sugar.
Sugarcane was placed between the wheels of this machine, which was on display at the festival venue. With the help of the bulls, sugarcane was crushed and sugar extracted.
“This system was in use in many villages and Wilayat of Bahla, which has the largest number of them,” said Humaid Salem al Umaimi from Bahla. “It was in use till two decades ago.”