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Your Highness, solution in the ‘vegetable market’

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IT is not a secret that all our governments, especially the last four, were not up to the task. They delayed in dealing with matters, and did not learn from experiences. If they tried to rectify a mistake, they often missed the objective.

The best evidence of this was when the Cabinet, in charge of “expeditious execution of affairs”, suddenly woke up from its slumber and held an extraordinary session to discuss the issue of food security. His Highness the Prime Minister then directed the formation of a committee to strengthen that critical system.

The formation of the committee is definitely good news, but what His Highness the Prime Minister and all the ministers, as well as the army of advisors, have missed is that this issue has been on the table for six decades. Plans were put in place for it and they ended with the distribution of about 5,000 farms and thousands of livestock pens to citizens. However, most of them were converted into palaces and leisure camps.

There are about 140 productive farms on this beloved land, but Kuwait still imports about 93 percent of its food requirements.

To be frank, our governments have failed in this issue. They did not act like the rest of the neighboring countries, which turned desert areas into fertile farms, and produced the majority of their crops. Some of them planted wheat, and provided all kinds of care to livestock breeders to reduce their dependence on the outside. On the other hand, Kuwait has been content with slogans alone.

Before forming any committee, why do the relevant ministries not move and fight the mafias of food items and vegetables that control everything in this vital field, impose their prices on Kuwaiti farms and dictate how their products will be marketed? If a farmer raises his voice in protest, his produce gets thrown in the garbage just because he has no kingpin to rely on.

Our governments continue to do nothing because the kingpins of those mafias, which occupy the “vegetable market” and the food markets in Kuwait, are among the resonant names for whom all doors are opened. In fact, they are the ones who dictate the work missions and patterns for the ministers!

To His Highness the Prime Minister who seems unable to see through the sieve, we would like to highlight that the mismanagement is a disappointment and failure. It is a consistent fact in the Arab world that committees are the graveyard of cases.

Therefore, the effort exerted for forming the new committee is futile, given that since the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, many experts have called for the need to develop a plan to enhance food security locally, instead of relying entirely on imports from abroad.

In fact, this issue of food security was on the forefront of attention during the Iraqi-Iranian war. Plans were made for it, but they ended up suffocating in the drawers of governments and the parliaments.

The world today has progressed a lot. There are technical methods for irrigation and agriculture that make a piece of land of 1,000 square meters area sufficient to feed a thousand people. However, we are stagnant due to the absence of a solid will to confront the mafias, who seem to be the ones who will have the last word in this ministerial committee.

Nonetheless, given that you cannot give what you do not have, and the fact that the government lacks the ability to work, the new measures are just palliatives that neither nourishes nor avails hunger.

Therefore, food security is a lost case due to the fact that there is no solid content in the entire idea. A good example here is the number of the regulatory bodies and institutions, some of which are accused of corruption, but nothing has yet been addressed in this regard.

Unfortunately, our officials believe that positions are mere formalities, so they do not take to the streets to see the conditions of the people, and do not return to the archives of their institutions.

This is why Kuwait suffers from a continuous decline at all levels. It makes us wonder if there is a Prime Minister who listened to economic experts, or met with farmers and livestock breeders and was informed of their suggestions and needs.

Gentlemen, you should know that whatever is happening in Kuwait is a source of mockery for others in the region. Everyone is making fun of us because the executive management is detached from reality and lives on another planet. Our brothers in the Gulf region are asking, “Isn’t there a person to treat these maladies that Kuwait continues to suffer from?”

If the intention and seriousness is present to address this issue, His Highness the Prime Minister has no choice but to go to the “vegetable market” and see for himself its reality and then find out the names and personalities of the kingpins of the mafias that control the prices of vegetables and food items across the entire Kuwait. It is from there that the solution begins.

By Ahmed Al-Jarallah

Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times