A BAN on Saudi vegetable exports could give Bahraini farmers the boost they need to sell local produce in the market, according to experts.
It has created a slight shortage of vegetables and fruits in Bahrain and has resulted in an increase in prices of some produce.
However, Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry board member and its food and agriculture committee chairman Ebrahim Al Daisi said the ban could actually help Bahrain's agriculture industry grow.
"While it is unfortunate that the Saudis have banned exports since Bahrain's consumption is only a very small percentage of their total production, we can empathise with them," he told the GDN.
"They have said it is the critical water shortages that they have which has led them to ban the exports, we wish they could reconsider.
"There are so many vegetables and fruits that are grown in Bahrain and which very few people are aware of.
"We should have the Industry and Commerce Ministry and the Municipalities and Urban Planning Affairs Ministry implement more programmes so that Bahraini farmers are encouraged to grow more fruits and vegetables."
He said most of Bahrain's vegetables are now being imported from other Middle Eastern countries and Asia.
"That drives up the cost," he added.
Mr Al Daisi said the committee had sent several proposals to various ministries to allocate land for Bahrainis to set up their own farms.
"While some have been approved and farms have come up, many still await approvals," he said.
Meanwhile, Municipalities and Urban Planning Affairs Ministry horticulturist Amani Abu Idris said the recently-started farmers' market at the ministry's agriculture centre in Budaiya, was an ideal platform for Bahraini farmers to sell their produce without the involvement of middlemen.
"Since the import of many vegetables from Saudi Arabia has been banned, Bahrainis should grow their own," she said.
"Hopefully, the market will start attracting more and more people as it progresses.
"We have only held three weekly markets yet and are already seeing a huge jump in the number of visitors."
The market is held every Saturday between 8am and noon and attracts hundreds of people, both Bahrainis and expatriates.