The Abu Dhabi Farmers Service Centre (ADFSC) is working to a production target of 40,000 tonnes of farm products until June, which is more than a 100 per cent increase from the previous winter’s production of 16,000 tonnes.
The ADFSC is planning to open more markets for farm produce in more residential areas soon, which will help residents to buy fresh produce directly from local farmers.
This follows the recent successful opening of the Shahama market where Emirati farmers sell fresh vegetables, dates, eggs, honey and live birds directly to customers.
Farms across Abu Dhabi grow some 42 kinds of vegetables and fruits, with cucumber and potato making for the bulk of the produce. About 14,000 farmers work with the centre across the emirate and a 1,000 of them supply their produce to the centre. The ADFSC brands the locally sourced produce as ‘Local Harvest’ and markets it through 15 ADFSC Souq supermarkets across the emirate, besides prominent retail chains.
“We look at the weekly farmers market as another way to open up marketing channels to local farmers and link our souq outlets to the community it serves,” a top official told Gulf News. “They don’t have to deal with a middle man, and they can charge whatever they want,” said Chris Hirst, CEO of ADFSC.
“And they [the farmers market ventures] offer a particularly engaging way for farmers to share details about what they do with the public while also giving them a chance to share ideas with other farmers. It’s a way for the community to come together,” Hirst said.
The next weekly market is likely to open in Al Baniyas on Saturdays with a third due at Al Mina on Thursdays. Both new ventures will be located adjacent to ADFSC Souqs. Each farmer is in charge of his or her business at the weekly markets and no fee is charged on those putting up stalls. The ADFSC also arranges a separate stall for its ‘Local Harvest’ brand of products.
The success of the first market which opened on February 1 with the participation of 20 farmers drew in more farmers last week with 30 stalls selling vegetable and related produce and 20 stalls for live birds. ADFSC said the weekly market will operate until June, which marks the end of the winter season. The summer season is not conducive to such markets in view of the fall in local productivity, the spokesman said.
Meanwhile, Organic Farming is also a thriving business in the UAE. Organic farms are springing up all over the country as demand grows for fresh locally grown chemical free produce.