Meet Oman’s engineer-farmer who grows giant sized vegetables – Gulf News

Ahmed’s passion for farming stemmed from his vision to see barren land turn green
Muscat: Ahmed bin Ghafri is an engineer by profession, but it is farming that fascinates him.
Ahmed has been successfully growing giant sized vegetables in his family farm in Ibri town in Al Dhahira Governorate in Oman.
Ahmed regularly posts pictures of his farming delights on Twitter that has a good fan following. “These big-sized vegetables are not genetically engineered. They are normal produce that are huge in size. I import different types of seeds from different countries in Europe like England and Ukraine.”
Ahmed’s passion for farming stemmed from his vision to see the barren land around his house turn green with his efforts from a very young age.
“I come from a suburban and rural area, where native farming of certain crops is still practiced by many households. When I started my tryst with farming, many people ridiculed and laughed at my attempts.”
Ahmed credits his friend in Kuwait as the person who encouraged him in this and introduced him to the seed seller in the UK, specializing in giant vegetables and fruits. Ahmed says that through him, he met many farming enthusiasts in Europe, from whom he exchanges new techniques in farming.
The green-thumbed engineer was buoyed by his farming success.
“Seeing the yield of giant sized seasonal and common vegetables and flowers, I wanted to try rare and uncommon types. I bought seeds of different types of the giant plants from Wales and have planted them. I am eagerly waiting for the harvest of this lot.”
The giant farm produces are never on sale as these are literally fruits borne out of passion, and are consumed at home.
Currently Ahmed’s farm has mega sized cucumber, chilly and celery. The weight of one cucumber when harvested was up to 4 kilos and a chilly’s length was over 15 cm.
“I never had any formal training in farming, but I was forever a keen student and farming is one area where you see results quickly. I keep planting different plants at home and also at our small farm. I try to learn from the experiences of other farmers in Arab Gulf as we have similar soil and weather conditions.”
Ahmed says he is the first Omani farmer to have grown saffron in Oman. His bountiful harvest of long strands of Zafran, as it is locally called, drew appreciation and accolades from various quarters. Ahmed grew around 400 bulbs of saffron in the initial batch of cultivation and is currently in the penultimate stage of commercial production. He is awaiting government support for his project that he has already submitted for approval.
“Farming for me is a costly proposition as the water is salty and soil has to be enriched. We buy water, soil, fertilizer and pesticides and these operation expenses are steep. Part of the cost is recovered with income from the sale of seeds, farm produces and agricultural tools that we sell online, since we farm a variety of normal fruits and vegetables as well.”
Ahmed says that the shop in Europe from where he buys his seeds has seen many of its farming customers enter the Guinness World Records for their enormous plants. Ahmed is confident that he too will find a place in the book of world records with his giant vegetables one day.

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