Story and Photo by Ben Garcia
At a farm in Jahra, a Kuwaiti farmer grows leafy greens of various kinds like lettuce, coriander, spinach, rocca, parsley, dill and mint. According to Abul Kalam, a salesperson at a small shop on the farm, the owner has several other farms, which he visits once in a while. “My sponsor has several farms in Kuwait, particularly in Wafra and Abdaly – we are supplying the entire market of Kuwait,” he said, gesturing towards stacked cartons of freshly harvested vegetables. “These boxes contain vegetables from this farm only – they will be delivered tomorrow to supermarkets around Kuwait.”
People tending the farm are mostly from Bangladesh, directly hired by the owner. “We have several workers in the farm for ploughing, planting and harvesting,” Abul Kalam said. The farm is cultivated regularly and can produce multiple harvests. “Most of our leafy greens are cultivated twice or thrice a year. For example, rocca is harvested three times,” he told Kuwait Times.
The best time to plant vegetables is always during winter, when the weather is cooler. But the farm is utilized the whole year round since free irrigated water is supplied. “Winter here is not that harsh compared to other countries, so we can plant at any time; however, most of the greens need cooler climes, which is why we have more of these veggies during winter. We plant even in summer, but they are not as healthy compared to winter planting,” Abul Kalam said.
Vegetables are also imported from other countries. “We have competitors in various countries. So the market price is dictated by the supply,” he said. In the small shop, a bunch of leafy greens usually sold for 50 fils is sold at 25 fils or cheaper. “We have displays of produce here from our farms in Jahra, Wafra and Abdaly. We hope to supply the entire market, but we need to cultivate more to meet local demand,” Abul Kalam concluded.