New venue for farmers’ market




WORK on an indoor farmers’ market is being fast-tracked due to an overwhelming number of people visiting the existing location in Budaiya.

The permanent venue in Howrat A’ali is scheduled to be completed by the summer and will be able to house 60 farmers.

The market will take place year-round and is located near a government green zone that was set up to promote the agriculture sector, said Dr Mohamad Foda, agricultural consultant to Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries Under-Secretary Shaikh Khalifa bin Isa Al Khalifa.

He said construction work was being expedited because more than 20,000 people have been visiting the weekly Budaiya Farmers’ Market since it reopened last month.

“People prefer fresh produce that the market offers as it has a longer shelf life than Saudi imported produce and hydroponically grown produce,” he told the GDN.

“Since December 6 we have been seeing more than 20,000 people coming every Saturday.

“It is so popular that you won’t be able to find parking space if you come between 10am and 11am, but soon we will have the permanent market opening in Howrat A’ali, which is part of Her Royal Highness Princess Sabeeka bint Ibrahim Al Khalifa’s initiative to support local farmers.

“It was started last year and should be completed by the middle of this year.”

The seasonal market, which hosts 33 farmers, has attracted less than 10,000 people a week since it was launched in December 2012, but the footfall has doubled this year because of growing awareness and increased demand, according to Dr Foda.

“The whole idea of the market was set up so that local farmers will have a place to sell their produce competitively,” he explained.

“Most of the fruit we get is from Saudi Arabia and is usually those they could not sell in their own market.

“In Saudi it is almost impossible to sell produce that is not fresh, so what they do is sell them in Bahrain for such a low price that local farmers can’t compete – they don’t care how cheap they sell as it would just go to waste in Saudi.

“The Saturday market sells fresh from the soil produce – it tastes better and lasts longer – so over time people are realising this and want the local produce.

“It has made the whole idea of the market a success, which was to help local farmers.

“Now, those 33 farmers who were struggling to sell their goods only have to sell one day a week because of the success of the market.”

Meanwhile, the weekly market joined forces with the Bahrain Noor El Ain Festival yesterday to host the Garden Bazaar.

Local celebrity chefs – Abbas Mahdi from the Ritz-Carlton, Noor Murad from Bushido and Mark Dickey from Organic CafŽ – were present at the market to answer questions about their favourite culinary ingredients sold at the vendor stalls. The chefs will also attend next week’s bazaar for a live cooking demonstration alongside Master Chef Bahrain winner Kevin Denecke from Cucina Italiana. The weekly market will continue every Saturday between 8am and noon until April 25 at the Agriculture Centre in Budaiya.

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