Kuwait Farmers Express Frustration as Produce Prices Plummet

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KUWAIT CITY, Jan 20: The problem related to disposing of Kuwaiti agricultural products in garbage containers has now emerged due to lack of government support for the Kuwaiti farmers, as well as deprivation of support if they are unable to sell their products to the intermediary traders. A number of citizens and farmers called on the Ministry of Social Affairs, the Union of Consumer Cooperative Societies, and the Kuwait Farmers Union to promote the Kuwaiti product in the markets, and allow Kuwaiti farmers to sell their products directly to the cooperative societies. They stressed that there are hidden hands working to undermine the Kuwaiti food commodities for the benefit of the intermediary traders. In detail, Kuwaiti citizen Bou Saud revealed that Kuwaiti agricultural products are being dumped in garbage containers due to the lack of support from the state. He expressed his dismay at a carton of tomatoes being sold for 200 fils in Shabra (vegetable market) in Kabd, while the same carton is sold for KD 1.250 in cooperative societies.

Vegetables are seen neatly stacked at a Kuwaiti cooperative society

Bou Saud called on the Ministry of Commerce and Industry and all responsible parties to take necessary action to protect the Kuwaiti products. He said he was shocked when he saw the price of a carton of “columbines” is 100 fils, a carton of sweet pepper 50 fils, and a carton of black eggplant about 120 fils. Meanwhile, Kuwaiti citizen Fahad Abdul Rahman said Kuwaiti producers do not find the required support from the state, and this increases the suffering of the Kuwaiti farmers. He affirmed the importance of supporting Kuwaiti citizens to ensure expansion of the agricultural sector in Kuwait, especially since the Kuwaiti farmers’ frequent suffering makes him neglect this field.

A Kuwaiti farmer Saleh Al- Otaibi called on all responsible authorities to permanently support Kuwaiti products so that citizens are not forced to throw their produce in garbage containers due to the abundant availability of tomatoes and their low value. He indicated that the value of the crop may not be sufficient to cover the costs of transporting it in Shabra, due to which citizens are forced to throw quantities of their products into garbage containers despite the effort, fatigue, and labor wages they sustained. Al-Otaibi said he wondered why the state forces Kuwaiti farmers to sell their products only to the merchant, instead of allowing them to sell their products directly to cooperative societies and parallel markets.

He stressed that there are those who work to benefit the intermediary traders, especially since the Kuwaiti farmers are deprived of support if they do not sell their products to the intermediary trader. Al-Otaibi indicated that the price at which a carton of cucumbers is sold is 60 fils, but the citizens sell a carton of cucumbers for 30 fils, which leads to more losses because the Kuwaiti farmers must sell to the intermediary traders. He said that he has turned to planting nurseries on his farm as long as growing vegetables causes losses, revealing that he owns a seed trading company and therefore he knows very well the extent of the Kuwaiti farmers’ losses.

Al-Otaibi affirmed that the lack of demand for seeds confirms the extent to which many farmers have retreated from agriculture due to the absence of support for the Kuwaiti products. He called on the Kuwaiti Farmers Union to convey the voice of the Kuwaiti farmers to the government so that there is an end to the suffering of the Kuwaiti farmers. Al-Otaibi revealed that one of the difficulties is that farmers are not allowed to display their products in the branches of the Kuwait Farmers Union.

He said the government does not provide any support to the Kuwaiti farmers from seed to production, adding that it provides them with some support if they sell their products to the intermediary traders. Furthermore, another farmer Bou Rashid said he sold a small amount of tomatoes at very low prices. He said he wondered why a Shabra merchant buys a carton of tomatoes from a farmer for less than 100 fils, and the same carton is sold in the cooperative societies for more than one dinar. In addition, a carton of cucumbers may be sold for less than 50 fils.

Bou Rashid asked if such prices exist in any country in the world, demanding that the Kuwaiti farmers be allowed to sell their products directly to cooperative societies without a middleman. He stressed that the fraud has led to a number of suppliers putting Kuwaiti products in cartons for imported products and selling them for more than the value of the Kuwaiti products. Bou Rashid said he wondered whether the Kuwaiti products have reached such an extent, despite the fact that some Arab countries, whose borders are close to Israel, import seeds from Israel and supply vegetables to Kuwait.

Furthermore, a seller in the vegetable market Mahmoud Siddiq revealed that the cost of a carton of tomato inside the market is 200 fils, and of six cartons of cucumbers is KD 1. He revealed that a citizen may dump tomatoes in the garbage for reasons unknown to the stall seller. In addition, a trader Abu Al-Kalam Azzam said that he buys Kuwaiti agricultural products through auction and sells vegetables to Shabra, adding that he bought a carton of tomatoes for 475 fils and sold them for 500 fils, and he bought a carton of cucumbers for less than 150 fils and sold them for a little more than that value.

By Najeh Bilal
Al-Seyassah/Arab Times Staff

This news has been read 2777 times!

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