Bahrain is set to increase domestic food production from 20 per cent to 60 per cent in the next four years, said a senior government official.
Concerns about food security and plans to enhance the role of small farmers and local businesses have prompted the government to outlay projects to boost the country's agriculture sector, added Municipalities and Urban Planning Affairs Minister Dr Juma Al Ka'abi.
"Our objective is to increase domestic food production from 20 per cent to 60 per cent in the next four years," he told our sister publication, the Gulf Daily News after the fourth consultative meeting of the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry with small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs).
"Some traders wanted to know about food security and the government's plans in this regard. We reassured them that we have several projects outlined to boost the sector. We are hopeful of more businesses participating in the programmes geared to mobilise our agricultural production."
During the consultative meeting, the minister outlined plans to increase productivity of fisheries, agriculture and poultry and invited businessmen to invest in these sectors.
Development initiatives in these sectors were also being studied by an international bank, he said.
The Municipalities and Urban Planning Affairs Ministry is planning to construct a green town in Manama and agricultural nurseries in A'ali.
In the last BCCI meeting, the ministry came under criticism for not participating in the interaction between traders and the government.
The minister was keen to reassure that he was willing to engage more with traders, who formed an integral part of Bahrain's economy. "We always look at enhancing economic development and traders make significant contributions to Bahrain's economy," he said.
"According to the Bahrain's Economic Vision 2030, the private sector can play a key role in enhancing and attracting businesses."
A committee will be set up jointly with the BCCI to address complaints about municipal fees and commercial zoning.
"Traders raised issues about the municipal fees and to some extent it is not easy to change regulations," he said.
"Last year we tried to help people by exempting them from fees for a certain period. We've adopted a very relaxed approach, asking traders to pay fees in instalments, if it suits them. We've listened to them carefully and I've spoken with the president of the BCCI.
"The challenges will be considered in the action plan and we will try to solve them all,” he added.
The minister pledged his support for regular meetings and reassured traders of his personal involvement in resolving issues.
"Every quarter I'll be here to follow up on all the challenges and to see if the problems presented today were resolved or not," he said
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