PLANS are underway to have farms in Bahrain run on renewable energy as the kingdom fast-tracks efforts to roll out innovative projects and initiatives as part of its strategy to boost food security. Municipalities Affairs and Agriculture Minister Wael Al Mubarak told MPs during the weekly session yesterday that varying uses of green energy – for agriculture or animal wealth – were being studied and projects would soon be ready for implementation.“We are looking into several ideas that would help elevate the agriculture and animal wealth sectors in Bahrain,” said Mr Al Mubarak.

“Renewable energy is our top choice as it is convenient, environmental-friendly, cost-saving and reliable.“We are also working to connect all farms through a treated sewage water network to reduce dependence on underground water.”The minister said six locations have been earmarked for hydroponic farming and yield from the 41 hectares of land would cover 10 per cent to 20pc of the country’s vegetable needs. “Tenders for two locations in Howrat A’ali and Duraz have been issued while the four other locations are in the process of being registered for soil-less farming projects,” he added.Hydroponics is a method of growing plants without soil, by using mineral nutrient solutions in a water solvent. The alternative farming technique is considered particularly suitable to arid countries like Bahrain where the amount of arable land is very limited.

The minister revealed the details in response to a question on food security by MP Hassan Ibrahim.Mr Al Mubarak also pointed out that an 830,000 square metre plot has been allocated to increase poultry production, in partnership with the private sector, while another 340,000sqm has been set aside for chicken coops.

“The General Poultry Company, the biggest producer of table eggs in the country, has also seen an expansion that increased its production to 108.1 million eggs last year – up by 16.2m eggs from 2022,” said Mr Al Mubarak.“The Bahraini Farmers’ Market has been attracting crowds over the last 10 years with an annual expansion planned so that we get more professional farmers to showcase their produce and promote it.”Mr Al Mubarak said productive seeds would be imported for local farming following international agreements.

“We are trying to launch the Agricultural Genetics Resources Bank as we work to get new productive seeds from international suppliers to expand or strengthen farming,” he added. “The ministry has 47.94 hectares of agricultural plots registered under its books and we are looking for further growth.”He added that Bahrain last year imported 13,594.5 tonnes of frozen red meat, 11,931.9 tonnes of chilled poultry meat, 46,764 tonnes of frozen poultry meat, and 161,335 livestock heads.Meat and livestock are exempted from value-added tax,” he said.Meanwhile, responding to a question by MP Hanan Fardan on charity societies and banning of mass weddings, Social Development Minister Osama Al Asfoor said meetings have been held with 350 charity and social societies to discuss work.

However, he eluded the question twice, saying that societies needed to focus on their intended targets as mentioned in the formation or foundation mandate.Parliament Speaker Ahmed Al Musallam demanded a clear answer.“We want to ease societies’ work and are looking to alleviate any apparent hurdles that hinder their capabilities and reach,” said Mr Al Asfoor.“With regard to mass weddings, which have been stopped, charity and social societies should spend money on supporting the community and those in need.

“For any other purposes like parties and events, they need our consent should they have a specific sponsor willing to cover all costs.“I have sworn an oath to protect people’s welfare and provide them with the best services, and money must be spent wisely.”During the session, Mr Al Musallam was confronted for the second week running by foreign affairs, defence and national security committee chairman MP Abdulla Al Romaihi, whose comments against a government official were struck from records. 

Copyright 2022 Al Hilal Publishing and Marketing Group Provided by SyndiGate Media Inc. (