By Muhammad Al-Abdullah
DAMMAM – Frost has severely damaged, and in some places completely destroyed, crops here during the recent cold fronts over the area, say Eastern Province farmers.
Damage was estimated to be between 70 and 100 percent in the region.
Farmers said that the frost on Monday caused more damage than the cold front over the Eastern Province a few weeks ago. Some said that their crops of tomatoes, eggplants, zucchinis, beans and other vegetables were completely destroyed because of the freezing morning temperatures.
Abdul Hakim Mahfoud, a farmer, said: “The frost caused 100 percent damage. My 50,000-square-meter farm was completely destroyed. Tomato fields, which produce vegetables worth SR1,500 daily, were destroyed. Zucchini fields worth SR400 to SR800 daily, were also destroyed.” The cold weather coincided with harvest time, Mahfoud added.
Most farmers are in debt because they buy insecticides and fertilizers on credit and can only pay back the money when they sell their produce, he pointed out.
Abdullah Al-Mahfoud, a farmer, said that the recent frost damaged 70 to 80 percent of the tomatoes and potatoes on his farm. “Snow remained on the potato fields until seven in the morning and the produce was completely destroyed before being sold. It cost me SR200,000 to grow potatoes, which means I lost around SR500,000 because of both frost waves.”
Farmers can no longer benefit from this season because they cannot grow seeds in the next few weeks, and they have heavy debt burdens, Al-Mahfoud added. “The frost dashed our hopes of selling our produce and paying off our debts,” he lamented.