By Majd Othman

KUWAIT: President of the Kuwait Union of Farmers Abdullah Al-Damak told Kuwait Times that the Council of Ministers has passed a law obligating cooperative societies to purchase at least 75 percent of Kuwait agricultural products directly from farmers. Damak pointed out that this ministerial decision indicates the government's awareness of the importance of supporting Kuwait's farmers, especially with the acute shortage of workers in the agricultural sector.

Damak stated that large numbers of agricultural workers are needed to raise the production rate. "The next season, local products will be available in abundance in the markets after raising the percentage of agricultural labor in order to increase production. We expect this season to be different for the previous ones that were affected by several factors - especially the COVID-19 pandemic," he said.

Damak called on all parties including cooperative societies, the private sector and the government to support and promote Kuwait products. "Farmers have lost a lot over the years, and were unable to cover their costs. The problem is that - there are lots of imported products. The amount of production is considered good - but not much. Local farmers need support in order to increase production. We urge government to open more marketing outlets in residential areas, especially the new areas such as Al-Mutlaa, South Al-Abdullah, West Abdullah Al-Mubarak, South Sabah Al-Ahmad and all other areas," he added.

Regarding the demand for local Kuwaiti products, Kuwait Times interviewed a number of consumers in cooperative societies and asked them about their preferences. Om Yousef said "the prices of local agricultural products are good and appropriate, but the prices of imported fruits are very high and exaggerated. We are forced to buy the imported ones in the absence of the local varieties. We hope to have more local products in the markets."

Umm Hamed said, "the imported products are much more expensive than the local one, but the quality differs. However, local fruits are very few in the markets, so we have to buy the imported ones at high prices." Omar, an employee at co-op, said that the imported products are of better quality than the local ones. "The packaging is better and distinctive in a way that preserves the product for longer time. As for the customers, they prefer the local product, especially since its price is cheaper than the imported ones."