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Kuwait Farmers Union demands answers over 'staged' onion shortage

Staff Writer | November 23, 2017
Chairman of the Kuwait Farmers Union Barrak Fand Al-Sabeeh said the recent onion shortage was staged by some influential people and urged the consumer protection department to investigate the matter and identify those who created the crisis and hid onion supplies on purpose to increase its prices.
onion shortage
Food trade   Chairman Barrak Fand Al-Sabeeh:
"People's health cannot be manipulated by those to allow in products not fit for human consumption," he said.

Sabeeh rejected blaming Kuwaiti farmers and the Public Authority for Agricultural Affairs and Fish Resources (Ponion shortageFR) for the problem, noting that they both exert endless efforts to provide food security.

He added that Kuwaiti farmers usually refrain from planting onions because it takes six months to be harvested, while the government does not subsidise them to cover their losses.

"This is why most farmers tend to plant crops that can be quickly harvested to pay off their loans," he underlined, noting that loan instalments have to be paid biannually to avoid paying an extra 5.2 percent in interest.

Sabeeh added that many farmers are planning to sell their farms, while the others have to work hard to get their crops sold on local markets at the cheapest prices.

He also called for protecting Kuwaiti farmers by limiting the amount of imported products instead of flooding the market with them, which according to him results in situations where the local produce is sold for as low as 10 fils ($$0.033) a carton, although an empty carton costs 40-45 fils ($$0.044).

"We should at least coordinate imports with local products and only import when a crop is not locally available," he suggested.

Sabeeh stressed that Kuwaiti farmers are capable of producing all kinds of vegetables for the local market if water and power supplies are constantly provided.

He also noted that suitable silos were needed to store locally planted pesticide-free onions, garlic, potato and beetroot.