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Wednesday , March 29 2023

O Leadership: Plant in desert, here is the proof of its success

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MORE than a century ago, the late Lebanese writer Gibran Khalil Gibran wrote, “Woe to a nation that eats what it does not sow.” This is due to the fact that food security is a vital component of societies. When a country depends on imports entirely or to a large extent, it remains at the mercy of others who will undoubtedly impose what they want on it.

Based on this fact, we turn to the leadership with a proposal for providing food security to Kuwait. If it is well exploited, the surplus can be exported abroad, but before that it is necessary to recall some visible facts from the countries close to us.

In Saudi Arabia, the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman launched the “Green Saudi Arabia” initiative, which is based on planting ten billion trees inside that country in the coming decades by rehabilitating about 40 million hectares of degraded land.

This is despite the fact that the country is currently almost self-sufficient in vegetables and fruits after the agricultural renaissance it witnessed in the past decades. In its Buraidah region alone, it produces about 46 percent of the dates, fruits and vegetables that the country needs.

This initiative is not new. Rather, it has several precedents, especially in arid areas, as is the case with the Emirate of Abu Dhabi where the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan worked to harness all potentials to achieve food self-sufficiency.

I remember during one of the visits of the late Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad to Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Zayed asked what he had done to increase the green spaces. His answer was, “Experts told us that palm cultivation will affect the groundwater, which with time will become salty. Therefore, the trees will not live more than ten or 15 years. However, I was not convinced by this, and I asked to increase the planting of trees.” He added, “I also ordered the assistance of experts for agriculture in salt water. After studies, the opinion was settled on cultivating areas of land with salt water, and the experiment succeeded. The sea constitutes 75 percent of the globe. Desalination plants have become very cheap nowadays, and desalinating its water will not cost much.” Your Highnesses, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Kuwait experienced a difficult test in terms of food security. Unfortunately it failed due to the lack of reliable agricultural infrastructure, in addition to the poor distribution of agricultural plots.

Despite the fact that it is easy to work on reviving this sector, it is also possible to exploit the arid areas and turn them into a paradise like a green Eden, which will secure what Kuwait needs from food sources in terms of vegetables and livestock.

For this purpose, joint stock companies can be established, in which citizens can have a share. Its production, with the use of the latest technologies, can be transferred to the local market on the basis that the owner is a consumer.

China managed to plant one of its largest deserts, and during the period between 2000 and 2009, 56 billion trees were planted. The total agricultural area increased about tenfold in the Gobi Desert. It used huge machines to pick cotton, flowers, vegetables and fruits.

Cultivating the Kuwaiti desert is not impossible. If the will is there, we will witness the greatest agricultural renaissance and food self-sufficiency within a few years.

Therefore, we wish His Highness the Crown Prince, who is currently concerned with the renaissance of Kuwait, that this proposal will receive his attention, and that it will not make room for those who benefit from the fact that Kuwait remains dry and barren.

In order not to puncture the wheels, there shouldn’t be an opportunity to invoke Kuwait’s poverty of water because desalination is no longer expensive. The UAE and Saudi Arabia are working to exploit this technology to increase green areas.

Likewise, Egypt is the gift of the Nile, as despite the abundance of water in it, it uses desalination plants. Kuwait has all the financial and coastal capabilities to build this type of plants and benefit from them to the fullest.

By Ahmed Al-Jarallah

Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times