Historically, Bahrain has always been working to achieve environmental, social, and economic development, based on the belief that these foundations are the pillars of stability. Today, the reform project of His Majesty King Hamad Bin Isa Al Khalifa, which promotes human rights and basic freedom, includes the right of development with equal participation from men and women. Thus, it aims to achieve peace and security at all levels, relying on food security, due to its importance in facing future economic challenges which will protect the prosperity of the people. The constitutional provisions outline the importance of agriculture in Bahrain, especially Article (9 – G) of the constitution, which confirms the commitment of the State in maximizing the use and productivity of arable land and supporting small-scale farmers. In addition, Article (11) states that “All natural wealth and resources are State property. The State shall preserve and wisely invest them, while observing the requirements of the State’s national security and economy”.
Meanwhile, the Kingdom of Bahrain faces a number of challenges that negatively impact the agricultural sector. Of these challenges are the demographic factor, which is represented in the fast growing rate of population and the small available areas which requires the construction of residential complexes that occupy a large proportion of the Kingdom’s lands, especially agricultural lands. In addition, the scarcity of water supplies and land salinity are other factors that adversely affect the existing agricultural output. Besides the demographic factor, there are economic factors. For example, the high levels of individual’s income and the changing pattern of food consumption, and the decreasing number of farmers relative to the total population as a result of their employment by other sectors. The economic growth is usually accompanied by an imbalanced proportion of the population’s distribution between villages and cities, which in turn leads to further urban expansion at the expense of agricultural lands and to the fluctuation of agricultural production.
In view of these challenges, Her Royal Highness Princess Sabeeka bint Ibrahim Al Khalifa, Wife of the King of Bahrain, and the President of the Supreme Council for Women, has undertaken a pioneer role in protecting and developing the agricultural sector. Her Royal Highness is keen to achieve the necessary balance between agricultural land and urban development. She believes in its importance for the people’s health and well-being. It ensures domestic food security, without relying on external resources to feed the population, as well as increasing the contribution of the agricultural sector to the gross domestic product (GDP). The National Initiative for Agricultural Development (NIAD) was launched to implement the directives of Her Royal Highness to achieve her future vision of a continuous development of the agricultural sector. It unites all stakeholders in the Kingdom and coordinates existing efforts in order to boost the agricultural sector and to set future plans to achieve the strategic goal.
For more information about The National Initiative for Agricultural Development please visit http://www.niadbh.com