Sunday, 8 July 2012

Agriculture and its role in our economy

By Mohammed Al Balushi — It is well known that the economy of Oman mostly depends on oil and gas. There are some other economic areas on which a lot were written but practically not well observed in the country yet, like, tourism, industry, people's skills and knowledge and agriculture. However, agriculture is one of the essential part of an economy. There are many countries which don’t produce oil and gas but depend on agriculture. It means agriculture has its due importance in the economic circle. Oman has a strategic location and nice climate and yet its agriculture has yet to gain better focus and value to become a part of its economy. The land of Oman is a great gift from the Lord and from which many things can be produced agriculturally.
History has witnessed that before agriculture people got all their food by gathering wild plants, hunting and fishing. In current life and according to some researches agriculture provides us with nearly all our food, with fibres for clothing, raw materials for industry, and half of the world's workers are farmers, and about a third of the earth's land area is used for agriculture. The agricultural revolution, which started in early 1700 in Britain, brought on many changes, the first was proper understanding of the value of agriculture and how it develops people and countries economically. In this revolution the three main developments were: improved crop growing methods, advances in livestock breeding and invention of new farm equipment.
Of course, agriculture is not only about food. But also about shelter, clothing and medicine. These four are the very basic needs of people. Some of the questions that need to be raised are how can agriculture contribute to economic development? How does it reduce world poverty? How does it relate to other sectors? In Oman where does agriculture stand? These are very basic queries for Omani economists and once these are properly answered and handled, then the economic problems can be dealt with to a great extent.
In my observations, I found that agriculture has not got its due importance and its economic value has not been properly evaluated.
Ironically, this is one of the greatest opportunities for economic growth. The things which need to be done in this area are: understanding that agriculture is vital for economic development, presenting the Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats (SWOT) analyses to local and foreign investors. Since I did not study at Sultan Qaboos University (SQU), I don't have any idea what role the agriculture college is playing, theoretically and practically. What kind of knowledge and skills do these students acquire during their college study, where can the knowledge will be utilised, and where do these students go after graduating?
However, in my opinion a proper strategy should be adhered to whereby agriculture can be connected with economic development. One of my suggestions is that the students should be given opportunities to learn and understand agricultural practices in some farms during their summer vocation, like how they study computer in institutes and recite Quran in mosques.
In Oman there still large areas which are empty and can be well used for agriculture. Agriculture has been practised in the region since ancient times and it has been referred to in the verses of Quran.
For example; the verses (22) and (61) from Sura Al Baqara talks about agriculture. Verse 2/22: "Who has made the earth a resting place for you, and the sky as a canopy, and sent down water (rain) from the sky and brought forth therewith fruits as a provision for you…" and in verse 2/61 "And remember when you said O Musa! We cannot endure one kind of food. So invoke your Lord for us to bring forth for us of what the earth grows its herbs, its cucumbers, its Fum (wheat or garlic), its lentils and its onions."
If the agricultural revolution, which began once in 1700, has revolutionised the world why can't it happen once again so that it may reduce the world’s economic problems? Oman should take the proper initiative in this area and the people concerned should spare the time for this issue.
Original Article Here

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