Kuwait Essay

Kuwait is not self-sufficient in agriculture but the country
will be in the future. Its production of cereals, vegetables and
fruit grown in the oasis of Jahra and scattered smallholdings is
not sufficient for the population’s needs, due to limitations of
water supply, fertile soil, climate and manpower. Much of its food
needs to be imported but government investment and the work of the
Kuwait Experimental farm have led to improvements whereby existing
resources are more efficiently utilized.

Kuwait is a small arid desert land of about 6200 square miles.

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There is virtually no natural source of fresh water. Climatic
conditions entail occasional high winds and dust storms, little or
no rainfall, and summer temperatures as high as 120?F.

“Consequently, arable land amounts to less than 9% of total
acreage.”1 Soil deficiencies and the intense heat and sunlight
allow continued cultivation only by expensive underground pipe-fed
irrigation or by hydroponics. Ordinary irrigation under these
conditions results in gradually increasing soil salinity. this
phenomenon has been the cause of the estimated 1% annual decrease
in arable land for the region as a whole. Hence, development of
traditional agriculture is severely restricted.

1El Mallakh, Ragaei (Kuwait, Trade and Investment. Boulder,
Westview Press Inc., 1989) pg117
Kuwaitis are under no illusion that self-sufficiency will take
less than 20 to 30 years to attain and even then it cannot include
such items as beef and cereals. For Kuwait cereal production is
considered too expensive and unnecessary. Self-sufficiency in
poultry, vegetables and fruit is a visible goal: already Kuwait
produces 60% of the eggs it needs, 40% of the poultry meat and 100%
of the tomatoes. The next emphasis is likely to be on dairy farming
and animal husbandry to increase the 25% of the required milk
supplies that is produced in the country. The Kuwaitis are very
conscious of the fact that urban growth and the hunting of animals
which used to live in the desert has meant the virtual extinction
of wildlife. Kuwait is importing from many countries animals such
as cows, chickens and sheep.

In view of Kuwait’s extremely unpromising natural environment
which was made even worse after the Persian Gulf War, the key to
all its hopes for self-sufficiency lies in research and
experiments. Their experimental farm research farm:Omariya, the
Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research and the Kuwait Fund for
the Advancement of Sciences are engaged in a variety of projects
concerned with the hybridization of plants, animal breeding, the
increase of yields in desert conditions, the treatment of brackish
water and effluent water, irrigation methods, etc. “For example,
the use of plastic mulching films as a cover for the soil is
already widely known as a method of preventing evaporation,
reducing soil erosion and retarding weed growth.”2
Winstone, H.V.F.(Kuwait:Prospect and Reality. London, McGraw-
Hill Inc., 1990) pg. 198
Kuwait only has 100 acres or so under cultivation in the whole
country. This makes Kuwait one of the least agriculturalized
countries in the world. The dependence on imports of foodstuffs is
almost complete. This state of affairs has had economic as well as
sociological effects on the population since the oil exports pay
for the food imports. The urbanistic character of the indigenous
population has been reinforced by the lack of farming
opportunities. Kuwait is trying to change this in order to
diversify and balance its economy which at present is highly
dependent on finite amounts of petroleum. “Agriculture (including
fishing) accounts for but a small portion of Kuwait’s gross
domestic product (0.24%). This economic sector utilized only 3% of
those privately employed.”3
3El Mallakh, Ragaei (Economic Development and Regional
Cooperation. Chicago, Universityof Chicago, 1988) pg. 55
Government studies have shown the feasibility of commercial scale
production of fruits and vegetables using hydroponic methods. However,
little progress has actually been made in terms of expanding the income
base of the country. The reasons for lack of progress are
obvious:deficiencies of soil, lack of irrigation water, the harsh climate,
and the limited supply of agriculturally trained manpower. There is a heavy
dependence on expatriate labour since Kuwaitis possess an almost
“agriculture-less” mentality, aside from fishing.

If agriculture is an industry of the future, fishing, together
with pearling have been a major occupation in Kuwait since the
foundation of the state. Today with the increase in population and
rise in living standards “the local industry provides about 99% of
consumption, which is over 5000 tons a year.”4 The harvesting and
eating of shrimp has progressed most rapidly-doubling in 2 years
during the early 1980s. The individual fishermen who still supply
two-thirds of the local market, use much of the traditional
equipment. Gradually they are acquiring more modern equipment which
will allow them to be more efficient. There is also a United
Fisheries Company which was setup by government to reduce
overfishing which a constant problem.

4The State of Kuwait:The Ministry of Information (Kuwait:Facts
and Figures 1988. KuwaitCity, The State of Kuwait, 1988) pg.

Kuwait will be self-sufficient in agriculture in the future.

It will be able to grow more of its own food through new techniques
and it will continually be able to buy food should the country ever
find itself in that situation. Many of the new techniques proposed
are feasible and there is no lack of monetary resources to spend on
this problem. They already have succeeded in reducing their
dependence on imports of vegetables, fruits and poultry. The
government will spend the money also because it wants to diversify
its economy instead of being mainly based on the country’s
petroleum resources.

El Mallakh, Ragaei Kuwait, Trade and Investment. Boulder, Westview
Press Inc., 1989
El Mallakh, Ragaei Economic Development and Regional Cooperation.

Chicago, University of Chicago, 1988
Mansfield, Peter Kuwait:Vanguard of the Gulf. London, Hutchinson
Publishing Co., 1990
The State of Kuwait:The Ministry of Information Kuwait:Facts and
Figures 1988. Kuwait City, The State of Kuwait, 1988
Winstone, H.V.F. Kuwait:Prospect and Reality. London, McGraw-Hill
Inc., 1990


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