TAIF: The government on Thursday launched the second edition of its Agricultural Extension Convoy to help support the rose industry in Taif.
The three-day event, staged by the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture, is being held under the patronage of Taif Gov. Prince Saud bin Nahar bin Saud bin Abdulaziz.
According to local farmer Rashed Al-Qurashi, the ministry’s support comes at a crucial time for the industry, as the price of rose oil has been in steep decline.
“A 12-gram bottle of Taif rose oil used to sell for SR5,000 ($1,330) but is now just a fifth of that price, which is too low compared with the production cost,” he told Arab News.
Taif’s rose oil and rose water are regarded as being among the best in the world, but the industry is facing major challenges, including water shortages and a lack of skilled workers.
“Taif’s rose farms are on top of mountains, which contributes to their high quality but water there is scarce,” Al-Qurashi said.
“The industry also needs support in tackling parasites and fungi that are harming rose trees, but the most important issue now is (the lack of) water.”
Saeed Al-Ghamdi, director general of the Makkah regional branch of the environment ministry, told Arab News that the aim of the agricultural convoy was to improve farmers’ knowledge and skills by changing their behaviors and implementing best practices.
“The convoy is so important as it allows farmers to share experiences and get the results of the latest agricultural research,” he said.
“Local farmers are keen to increase the quality and quantity of their production, and every other year, we reap the fruit of this convoy through the increases in agricultural production.”
He added that during the convoy, farmers were able to speak to experts who use “very simple language” to ensure they get their information across.
“The convoy also includes a mobile laboratory truck where farmers can learn more about the soil on their farms and get advice,” he said, adding that there were also specialist clinics and workshops, including ones to help beekeepers.
Farmer Mohammed Mufarij Al-Malki said that while farming had traditionally been a family affair, with relatives working together to grow crops, the industry had gone through many changes, including the introduction of social media to market and sell products.
“Their are new techniques and farmers can export their crops and market their products through electronic stores, said Al-Malki, who has 70,000 followers on TikTok.
“With Saudi Vision 2030, the Saudi Green Initiative and the Middle East Green Initiative, launched by King Salman and the crown prince, farming has a bright future,” he said.