NEW plans to increase food security levels are in the pipeline including increasing productivity, stocks and providing quality consumable items.
Municipalities Affairs and Agriculture Minister Wael Al Mubarak said ensuring food security was an ongoing continuous process that is updated, upgraded and levelled up on a regular basis in line with statistics and analytical percentages.
He told MPs, during a debate yesterday on the findings of a parliamentary probe committee into food security, that the country was investing in particular products that have some space to expand on.
“We are directing our investment attention to poultry, eggs, aquaculture and conventional fishing as we see food security opportunities and chances in them,” said the minister.
“All of those involved in the agriculture, animal wealth and aquaculture sectors receive limitless benefits and support from us as we work on new plans to increase food security in the country,” he added.
“We want to develop and Parliament’s support, feedback and interest is strengthening our future direction.
“Bahrain is formulating a long-term roadmap to achieve food security, so it is not an instantaneous effort, but something of longevity and we are working to forge international and regional partnerships, and promote cutting-edge technologies and innovations to boost agricultural production and aquaculture.”
He added that the GCC was working together on food security plans of joint interest through a unified committee.
“We here in Bahrain have two massive agriculture projects that are set to see the light of day and fully operational by the end of the year.
“A total of 85,617 tonnes of poultry meat and 92 million table eggs were produced last year.
“Our plan is to reach 120m eggs through a massive expansion in production lines by the end of this year,” he added.
“Our chick production is also set for an increase – from 9m to around 30 to 40m yearly – under new plans, and this will reduce our dependence on imports to just 30 per cent.
“It is not just projects we are working on and violations are being closely monitored and 1,014 expatriate fishermen have been referred to the Public Prosecution since the beginning of the year.”
Meanwhile, Parliament and Shura Council Affairs Minister Ghanim Al Buainain refused claims by MPs that the government was happy with price increases to make more money on VAT (value-added tax).
“Basic commodities are not taxed firstly, and the government is helping people cope with inflation through monthly allowances,” he said.
“So these accusations are wrong.
“In fact, we are working to stabilise prices in the market within affordability and attainable rates not to drain public pockets and ensure they meet their ends.”
MP Mohammed Al Olaiwi said this was an astonishing comment considering that there is no Bahraini without a bank loan.
“The DNA of any Bahraini needs to be checked should they claim they don’t have a loan,” he added.
Acting Speaker Abdulnabi Salman said the joint subsidies and social welfare committee would resume its work next week.
Parliament’s Palestinian Support Committee vice-chairwoman Jalila Al Sayed broke down in tears as she spoke about food security saying people in Gaza where finding it difficult to eat without aid reaching them.
Mr Salman asked his colleagues to stand in a minute of silence for the victims of the war on Gaza.
All 17 recommendations by the probe committee have been approved and referred to the Cabinet for implementation.
The panel said Bahrain must achieve food security by increasing and sustaining local production and not rely on imports, which represent 90pc of the consumed food commodities.
Mohammed Al Marafi, who heads the panel, underscored the need to encourage, support and diversify foreign and local investments in food production.
He also called for safe and effective alternatives, especially after halting ‘Khairat Bahrain’ project, which was scheduled to be implemented in Sudan.
Meanwhile, Parliament second deputy speaker Ahmed Qarata asked for a correction in his comments last week when he said North and South Yemen instead of North and South Korea.Copyright 2022 Al Hilal Publishing and Marketing Group Provided by SyndiGate Media Inc. (Syndigate.info).